Bernie Sanders Releases Ad in South Carolina in Bid to Gain Minority Support

© Evan Vucci, AP Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., speaks during a canvass kick-off event at the Reno Sparks Convention Center, on Feb. 13, 2016, in Reno, Nev.
© Evan Vucci, AP Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., speaks during a canvass kick-off event at the Reno Sparks Convention Center, on Feb. 13, 2016, in Reno, Nev.

Never mind polls and endorsements favoring Hillary Clinton. Bernie Sanders isn’t ceding support from minority voters in South Carolina. 

The Vermont independent highlights his civil rights record in a television ad released Saturday that will play in the state ahead of its Feb. 27, first-in-the-South primary.

A narrator reminds viewers Sanders participated in the historic March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom as a young college student and says he’s unafraid to challenge the status quo to end racial profiling, take on police misconduct and take down a system that profits from mass imprisonment.

“There is no president who will fight harder to end institutional racism,” Sanders says in the spot, which opens with a quotation from the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. “Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle.”

Sanders may have challenged the notion that Clinton will be the “inevitable” Democratic nominee when he finished just 0.3 percentage points behind in Iowa and trounced her by 22 percentage points in New Hampshire.

But it will still be difficult for Sanders to overcome Clinton’s longstanding support among African-Americans, who are expected to comprise more than 50% of the South Carolina Democratic electorate. Clinton led Sanders more than two-to-one in a Jan. 17-23 NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist South Carolina poll, largely due to her backing from 74% of African-American likely voters, compared to 17% for Sanders.

Powerful supporters came to Clinton’s aid this week. The Washington Post reported Friday that Priorities USA Action, the biggest super PAC supporting Clinton, will launch a $500,000 radio ad campaign in South Carolina and lead a $4.5 million effort to drive early turnout of African-American, Latino and women voters in states that hold contests in March. The Congressional Black Caucus PAC endorsed Clinton on Thursday.

Sanders, meanwhile, released a video Thursday featuring civil rights activist Erica Garner, the eldest daughter of Eric Garner who died in 2014 after a white police officer put him in a chokehold.

“I’m behind anyone who’s going to listen and speak up for us, and I think we need to believe in a leader like Bernie Sanders,” Garner says in the video.

Another video released by Sanders flashes back to his endorsement of civil rights activist the Rev. Jesse Jackson for president in 1988.

Sanders, who has represented mostly white Vermont in Congress for two decades, sharpened his focus on the need to combat poverty in the African-American community and “institutional racism” as he faced protests last summer from Black Lives Matter activists, who disrupted his speeches with demands for criminal justice reforms.

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Source: USA Today | Nicole Gaudiano