The morning after his New Hampshire primary victory, Bernie Sanders made a highly publicized visit to Harlem to dine with Al Sharpton, one of America’s most prominent civil rights activists and media personalities.
The two dined at Sylvia’s, the same New York City restaurant where Sharpton huddled with Barack Obama during his 2008 presidential campaign.
Wednesday’s meeting was a not-so-subtle recognition of Sanders’ pivot to South Carolina and Sanders’ effort to broaden his appeal to the state’s decisive African-American voters.
Hillary Clinton has been heavily favored in polls to date to win South Carolina, in part due to Clinton support among African-American voters.
But Sanders’ strong finish in New Hampshire and fresh appeal to younger voters will further test Clinton’s perceived strength in the Feb. 27 primary.
More than half of South Carolina’s primary voters were black in the 2008 contest pitting Clinton against Obama, the first competitive black candidate for president.
She lost by a 29 percentage point margin.
Now facing a white liberal from Vermont in 2016, Clinton has led by double-digits in South Carolina polls. But Sanders has 17 days to close that gap.
Clinton’s strength among black and Latino voters is critical to her electability argument.
“It will be very difficult, if not impossible, for a Democrat to win the nomination without strong levels of support among African American and Hispanic voters,” Robby Mook, Clinton’s campaign manager, wrote in a Tuesday memo to reporters.
Speaking to reporters after breakfast, Sharpton said he also plans to meet with Clinton next week. An endorsement in the race would likely come after that, he said.
Sanders did not take questions from reporters waiting for him outside the restaurant.