Bernie Sanders' presidential candidacy gives the opportunity for real discussion about earning the African-American vote, the Rev. Al Sharpton said Thursday, but still, he was skeptical about Sanders speaking beyond rhetoric and offering solutions.
"We have serious problems from the economic conditions, to Flint, Michigan and across the board to education and clearly in policing," Sharpton, who met with Sanders in Harlem for a sit-down breakfast discussion, told MSNBC's "Morning Joe" program
"Whoever wins this election, Republican or Democrat, this will be the first time in American history we will see a white succeed a black president," Sharpton continued.
"Civil rights leaders have a responsibility to press them on the issues before we get into who we like or who we know and that's what we've got to do. Make them earn the vote."
And while the Congressional Black Caucus is to come out on Thursday in support of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Sharpton said, it is important to consider the candidates' plans for today, not what achievements they may have had 50 or 30 years ago, and he is skeptical about Sanders' voice when it comes to current events.
"I served with him in Congress and I can tell you, I don't recall one time in Congress where his voice was outspoken, where his voice was the loudest and most constructive around anything involving income inequality, particularly as it related to racial issues," said Sharpton.
"I applaud him now for his efforts around criminal justice reform and his loud call in front of every audience for what happened in Ferguson, for what's happening in every community across the country."
Further, said Sharpton, he doesn't hear a "growth" message, but instead "'here's how we make government take more from people who earn a lot.'"
But he did give "great credit" to Sanders for talking about black unemployment rates and youth unemployment, but still, "I don't hear solutions. I hear rhetoric and I hear him talking about his ideology, but I don't hear a list or enumeration of the kind of things we can do to redress or overturn those things."
Also, Sharpton said he believes Sanders has shortcomings with foreign policy, and that is "something that cannot be overlooked. The lack of experience, an unwillingness to engage or to even surround himself with a group of advisors, whether you agree with those advisors or not, it's unclear the kind of advice and approach he would take."
But Clinton, who will meet with Sharpton on Tuesday, still has to earn the African-American vote, he said on MSNBC's "MTP Daily," reports Politico
He said he still needs to hear more specifics from both Sanders and Clinton as the presidential race heads to South Carolina.
"You can't go to South Carolina and not deal with the Walter Scott case, not deal with gun control and the ramifications of the Charleston Nine," he said.
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