The race for African-American endorsements continued between the two Democratic Party candidates as Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) announced the backing of Calypso king and liberal activist Harry Belafonte.
It comes on the same day as Hillary Clinton stands with members of the Congressional Black Caucus at the Democratic National Committee headquarters in Washington to announce an endorsement by their PAC.
Clinton plans to campaign next week with the mother of Sandra Bland, who died in her jail cell after a traffic stop this past July in Houston, and last week trumpeted the impending endorsement of attorney Benjamin Crump, who represented the families of Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown. Gwen Carr, the mother of Eric Garner; Maria Hamilton, the mother of Dontre Hamilton; and Lucy McBath, the mother of Jordan Davis, will also campaign for Hillary, her campaign said Tuesday.
“Some of the mothers will travel to Charleston, South Carolina, to discuss what’s at stake in this election for African American families, and the epidemic of gun violence which demands common sense gun reforms,” the Clinton camp said. “As President Obama stated last month, Americans should vote based on a candidate’s record and willingness to take on the gun lobby. Unfortunately, throughout his career, Senator Sanders has failed to meet the president’s test, and when it mattered, he has been a consistent vote for the NRA.”
On Wednesday, her campaign pulled together a conference call with Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.), president of the NAACP’s New York State Conference Dr. Hazel Dukes, and South Carolina Minority Leader J. Todd Rutherford to promote her record in the black community over Sanders’.
On Friday, Clinton will hold a townhall in Denmark, S.C., “to discuss the disparities facing South Carolinians and communities of color.”
But Belafonte, in a video released by the Sanders campaign, said it was a “revolutionary” moment giving voters, especially the youth which have turned out in droves for Bernie instead of Hillary, a choice.
“I would suggest to those of you who have not yet made up your minds, or maybe even some of you who have made up your minds, to maybe consider and reconsider what it is that Bernie Sanders offers,” Belafonte said. “He offers us a chance to declare unequivocally that there is a group of citizens who have a deep caring for where are nation goes and what it does in the process of going.”
Belafonte led a delegation to Venezuela 10 years ago to laud the socialist regime of Hugo Chavez and told the strongman “millions of the American people … support your revolution.”
Sanders sat down with Rev. Al Sharpton in Harlem yesterday. Sharpton said he wouldn’t announce an endorsement until after he meets with Clinton next week.
Rep. Jeffries told CNN last night that the CBC picked Hillary because “she could both get elected and she’s ready, willing, and able on day one to step into 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and actually implement the dramatic that we need in this country building upon the significant accomplishments of President Barack Obama.”
Jeffries criticized Sanders for supporting, as a member of the House in the 1990s, “the $3.5 billion in prison construction money that resulted in an explosion of the prison population from around 800,000 to the 2.3 million that we have.”
He added that the senator has “34 years in public service and I can’t find a scintilla of evidence of revolutionary change that he actually is responsible for implementing during that period of time.”
Symone Sanders, Bernie’s national press secretary and a young African-American, said Sharpton challenged the senator to “really connect with African-American voters, to really carry the mantle of our issues and the senator had great answers to those questions.”
“We have now demonstrated that Senator Sanders is a serious candidate. We have demonstrated that he can go toe to toe with Secretary Clinton, not only in states like Iowa or New Hampshire but we’ve demonstrated that he can go toe to toe with her on the debate stage,” she said. “And now, we are going to demonstrate that Senator Sanders’ message does resonate with communities of color and that we can go toe-to-toe with her in states like Nevada, like South Carolina, and in March 1 states.”
On connections with the black community, she stressed that “we’re not pasting every single meeting we have on the front pages of the newspapers or the television. But what we are doing we are in the barber shops, like, I like to say the barber, the beauty shops.”
Symone Sanders said Bernie Sanders’ need to make inroads with the black vote is something “some might call it a weakness — I would like to call it an opportunity.”