Al Sharpton for president?

The online community salivates over the New York reverend's trial balloon.

Published May 21, 2001 3:54PM (EDT)

Here's a headline sure to get Republicans across America salivating: Al Sharpton may be running for president. Just as the Democratic Party let out a collective cheer when Pat Buchanan challenged Bush Sr. in 1992, folks on the right are eagerly anticipating a possible challenge in the next cycle's Democratic primaries from the Rev. Sharpton.

Motivated by Jesse Jackson's fall from grace, Sharpton may be looking to take on the mantle of black leadership in America, according to Time magazine. In a story that hits newsstands Monday, the magazine reports, "There's also no doubt that the hyenas are moving in. Or that the leader of the pack is the Rev. Al Sharpton, 46, the flamboyant former provocateur from New York City who was once Jackson's protégé and is now his biggest rival. The stage is being set for the next phase in the struggle for the leadership of black America."

In his interview with Time, Sharpton said he is poised to throw his hat into the national arena in the next go-round. "Now Sharpton is planning to rip the ultimate page from Jackson's book by running for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2004 -- the same strategy Jackson used 20 years ago to cement his position at the top," the magazine reports.

Sharpton says the idea came to him while he was sitting under a tree searching for shade in the hot Sudanese sun. "I feel that the Democratic Party must be challenged in 2004 because it didn't fight aggressively to protect our voting rights in Florida," he tells Time. "I think we need to look at running a black in the primary. I have said I would be available to do it."

It is true that nature abhors a vacuum, but there are many who abhor Sharpton even more.

"Al Sharpton, the two-bit race hustler, who only recently traded in his warm-up suits and processed hair for $800 suits, is going to run for President. Oh, jeez, this is priceless! The only thing that could make this carnival of bozos complete is having Jerry Springer run for the Senate from Ohio," writes one Table Talker.

Of course, in the world of Red vs. Blue, there is nothing one team likes more than to watch civil war on the other side. "I believe it is in the best interest of all Freepers to make sure Al makes it thru the primaries," writes one Free Republic poster.

Writes another: "Sharpton and Nader ... life is good."

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By Anthony York

Anthony York is Salon's Washington correspondent.

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