Inquisitor Bernie Sanders appeared on the nation’s top-rated hip-hop morning show, telling hosts of The Breakfast Club that he supports decriminalization of marijuana and an end to drug laws that unfairly target blacks.
Sanders covered a number of topics on his Friday appearance on the New York radio station Power 105.1, (LISTEN HERE) including his desire to spark a “political revolution” that brings in people who in the past had not been involved in the political process. But, the appearance focused mostly on issues affecting black voters, a demographic Sanders has been working hard to gain over the last few months.
In the interview, Sanders repeated his vow to bring an end to drug laws that that have decimated many black communities.
“We gotta get marijuana out of the Federal Controlled Substances Act – African Americans are more times more likely to be arrested for possession of marijuana than whites…despite the fact that both communities smoke marijuana at the same level,” he said.
In the interview, Sanders also addressed his support of the controversial Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act in 1994, which introduced tough crime and sentencing standards that critics say unfairly targeted black communities. Sanders said he always stood against the bill, but ultimately voted for it because of measures that were added to ban assault weapons and fight violence against women.
“We have more people in jail today than any other country on earth – largely African American, largely Latino – the criminal justice system is broken,” Sanders said.
The complete appearance can be seen in the following video.
The Sanders campaign had already been on the offensive against critics of his vote. This week, they released an animated video showing a 1991 speech against the bill, showing that Sanders has been firm in his stance against it and that his final support was indeed a compromise.
<noscript><iframe src=”https://www.youtube.com/embed/MoW5afVAvC8″ width=”560″ height=”315″ frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen=”allowfullscreen”></noscript>
The appearance is also part of a push on the part of Bernie Sanders to make inroads with non-white voters. For most of his campaign, Sanders has trailed Hillary Clinton by large margins among this important group, but he has been steadily chipping away at her lead. This week he gained an important endorsement from LUCHA, an Arizona-based Latino rights group that before now had never made a political endorsement.“Every day, we hear the stories of Moms working at fast-food restaurants for 11 years and only making $11 an hour and students who want to get more involved but their tuition is squeezing them,” said Alejandra Gomez, co-executive director of LUCHA. “At every turn, our community is being squeezed, and the only candidate speaking for them is Bernie.”
A report from NBC News noted that Bernie Sanders is gaining more and more support among Latino voters.
“While our national surveys have shown little discernible trend among all Democrats since the Iowa Caucuses, the movement among Latino voters suggests that a critical part of the so-called firewall of support that Clinton’s campaign had hoped to rely on among non-white Democrats may be crumbling.”
There appears to be more work to do with black voters, especially low-income black voters, the Los Angeles Times noted. Sanders is still struggling to win over voters in states like South Carolina, where Hillary Clinton remains the far-and-away favorite. Some political followers believe Clinton’s long tenure on the national stage is working in her favor.
“She has a three-decade head start,” said Gibbs Knotts, chairman of the political science department at the College of Charleston. “It’s hard for Sanders to make up that kind of ground in a pretty short period of time.”
— Slate (@Slate) February 18, 2016
Bernie Sanders has been making up ground among black voters but on the state-level and in national polls, but still trails Hillary Clinton by double-digit margins. If Sanders were to make a statement on Super Tuesday, it could take stronger outreach and more directed appearance like this week’s appearance on The Breakfast Club, political experts say.