The Rev. Al Sharpton argued Thursday that Democratic presidential candidate Bernard Sanders has not resonated enough with black voters, but he stopped short of endorsing front-runner Hillary Clinton.
“Bernie Sanders has a message that resonated around issues of employment, around issues of Wall Street, around issues of income inequality, but he has not resonated with African-American voters,” the civil rights leader said at a breakfast hosted by The Christian Science Monitor, McClatchy DC reported.
Mr. Sanders narrowly won Michigan’s Democratic primary on Tuesday with 34 percent of the black vote — a number Mr. Sharpton said isn’t good enough.
“It’s not good for a progressive Democrat,” Mr. Sharpton said. “Less than a third of the black vote does not show that he just did ‘all right.’”
Mr. Sharpton, who has yet to make an endorsement this campaign season, took particular issue with the Vermont senator’s use of the word “ghetto” to make a generalized statement about blacks during Sundays’ debate in Flint, Michigan, The Washington Examiner reported.
“I think Sanders has to convince people in the black community not only that he understands their situation but that he relates to them,” Mr. Sharpton said. “To stereotype us is not only something that is offensive, but you have mislabeled us.”
Mr. Sharpton did offer praise for Mr. Sanders’ ability to connect with voters on issues of employment, Wall Street and income inequality, arguing that those are the issues on which Mrs. Clinton has been weak, The Examiner reported.
“Balance is what has to happen and so far neither candidate has shown enough of that balance,” he said.
Turning his attention to the GOP field, Mr. Sharpton said there is a silver lining to the harsh rhetoric coming from Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump.
“I think Donald Trump, in his defiant, bias-tinged kind of persona, could bring the biggest turnout of black and Latino voters we’ve ever seen if the Democrats handle it right and go to their base,” Mr. Sharpton said. “If the Democrats handle Trump’s birther stuff, him denying at 69 years old he didn’t know who David Duke was, the KKK and all that, people would not only stand in line all night [to vote], they would come the night before and spend the night.”