Clinton’s Surrogates Are Banking on the Gun Issue to Win Over Black Voters

Sanders “only really started talking about issues concerning African Americans in the past 40 days.”

<a href=http://www.apimages.com/metadata/Index/APTOPIX-DEM-2016-Clinton/0a4d7588c97345c3a007153b64fa7351/187/1>Jae C. Hong</a>/AP

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis and more, subscribe to Mother Jones' newsletters.


After her sound defeat in New Hampshire on Tuesday night, former secretary of state Hillary Clinton is looking ahead to the primary in South Carolina, where she hopes her record and rhetoric on gun control will impress black voters and propel her to victory over Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

In a conference call Wednesday, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) joined Hazel Dukes—the former NAACP president and current president of the civil rights group’s New York State Conference—and South Carolina state minority leader J. Todd Rutherford to promote Clinton and to cite the inexperience of her rival. The three criticized Sanders as a newcomer to issues important to black voters, and condemned what they called his inferior record on gun control and criminal justice reform.

“I’ve watched Bernie Sanders on the campaign trail and seen how he only really started talking about issues concerning African Americans in the past 40 days,” Rutherford said. “Secretary Clinton has talked about these same issues, and advocated for us, for the last 40 years.”

Clinton’s black supporters argued that she, unlike Sanders—who represents a mostly white state—has always been a visible presence in the black community.

They also slammed Sanders for only recently moving over to the Democratic party, for voting in favor of the infamous 1994 Violent Crimes Bill, and for voting for an amendment that Jeffries claimed would have allowed Charleston shooter Dylann Roof to obtain a handgun before the completion of a background check.

“We know that Hillary Clinton has consistently stood up against the gun lobby, and spoken out against the epidemic of gun violence in the African American community and beyond. The record of Bernie Sanders is very different,” Jeffries said. “He’s twice voted to shield gun manufacturers, who I often refer to as ‘merchants of death;’ he voted to overturn a ban on guns on Amtrak trains; he voted to make it harder to crack down on gun dealers who break the law; he even voted for an amendment that would have allowed, or which allowed, of course, the Charleston shooter to get a gun before his background check is completed.” If you compare Clinton and Sanders on the issue of gun violence and how it affects the black community, Jeffries added, “it’s not even a close call.”

Jeffries, Rutherford, and Dukes answered reporters’ questions about Clinton’s own, arguably dubious, track record on issues that affect black communities—including her “superpredator” comments—with praise of her political experience and her platform for economic justice. But the overarching theme of the call was that Clinton, unlike Sanders—who represents a predominantly white state—has always been a visible presence in the black community.

“It’s good to have new friends, but I would rather have true friends,” Jeffries said.

Thank you!

We didn't know what to expect when we told you we needed to raise $400,000 before our fiscal year closed on June 30, and we're thrilled to report that our incredible community of readers contributed some $415,000 to help us keep charging as hard as we can during this crazy year.

You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

The months and years ahead won't be easy. Far from it. But there's no one we'd rather face the big challenges with than you, our committed and passionate readers, and our team of fearless reporters who show up every day.

Thank you!

We didn't know what to expect when we told you we needed to raise $400,000 before our fiscal year closed on June 30, and we're thrilled to report that our incredible community of readers contributed some $415,000 to help us keep charging as hard as we can during this crazy year.

You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

The months and years ahead won't be easy. Far from it. But there's no one we'd rather face the big challenges with than you, our committed and passionate readers, and our team of fearless reporters who show up every day.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

We have a new comment system! We are now using Coral, from Vox Media, for comments on all new articles. We'd love your feedback.