Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders is continuing his pitch to black voters, as he hopes to win the Democratic nomination for president. Sanders used a Democratic forum in South Carolina to try to attract black voters away from his main rival, Hillary Rodham Clinton, who they overwhelmingly favor.
His two competitors, Clinton and Martin O’Malley, a former governor of Maryland, also spoke at the event, which was not officially sanctioned as a debate by the Democratic National Committee.
The senator focused on his fiscal and social policies that he believed would appeal to black voters.
I think that I have the economic and social justice agenda now that once we get the word out, will, in fact, resonate with the African-American community.
He also discussed his past as a civil rights advocate. He showed the crowd an old photo of himself as an organizer in 1960s Chicago and discussed his experience working to desegregate housing.
The event was hosted by the South Carolina Democratic Party and Representative James E. Clyburn. Candidates were not allowed to appear together on stage. Instead, they were questioned one by one by MSNBC host Rachel Maddow, who acted as moderator.
Clinton was the only one to receive a standing ovation, and she remains very popular among black South Carolina voters.
Sanders has been under pressure lately as his leads over Clinton in Iowa and New Hampshire have shrunk in recent polls. He’s also proven to have had difficulty connecting to black voters.
He defended his record on gun control as well, and said his party should do a better job at appealing to working-class white voters.
Sanders is not the only candidate seeking to get black voters on his side. Recently, Dr. Ben Carson, who is running for the Republican presidential nomination, released a radio ad specifically designed to appeal to young black voters.