Hillary Clinton Urged to Stay Mum on Ferguson Shooting

Image: Hillary Clinton Urged to Stay Mum on Ferguson Shooting (Paul Zinken/DPA/Landov)

Wednesday, 20 Aug 2014 11:45 AM

By Drew MacKenzie

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Potential presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is being pressured by Rev. Al Sharpton to step up and comment on the Ferguson shooting controversy — but Democratic strategists are urging her to stay quiet, Politico reported.

Sharpton called on the former secretary of state as well as possible Republican contender Jeb Bush, and other White House hopeful, to make their feelings known about the killing of an unarmed black teenager by a white police officer.

"Jeb Bush, Hillary Clinton, don't get laryngitis on this issue," Sharpton said sardonically during a rally over the weekend in Ferguson, Missouri. "Nobody can go to the White House unless they stop by our house and talk about policing."

The preacher has continued to press for Clinton and other Democratic candidates in 2016 to speak up during his MSNBC show, but his requests appear to have fallen on deaf ears, Politico said.

Donna Brazile, former Vice President Al Gore's campaign manager, urged Clinton to wait until a full investigation is carried out into the shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown by Officer Darren Wilson before she addresses the crisis.

"There's two tragedies unfolding in American politics," Brazile told Politico. "The murder of a young unarmed man by a policeman and the mishandling of the case by local officials. And the second is the rush to politicize the tragic death of Mike Brown.

"I would caution all politicians outside Missouri to withhold making statements until the investigation is completed."

Clinton, who is on vacation in the Hamptons, and Bush, the former Florida governor, have not commented publicly on the shooting or the ongoing unrest that has followed it.

"For now, Secretary Clinton, if she's around, should express her remorse for the killing of an unarmed man," Brazile said. "She's a mom. A community is hurting. And a country needs healing."

Apart from showing sympathy to the Brown family, Brazile said that Clinton should keep her thoughts to herself for the time being about the shooting and the police reaction to the protests. "Her voice, while prominent, might distract from the important work that needs to be done," she said.

Obama pollster Joel Benenson also encouraged Clinton to remain quiet, saying that "this is time for only those who can play a very constructive role in bringing peace to a divided town to be speaking out."

He added, "I don't see how asking potential candidates to comment makes any sense, nor do I see how it makes sense for a potential candidate to weigh in unless they have a legitimate role to play in this situation."

Bruce Haynes, a Republican operative with Purple Strategies, said that Clinton is caught in a difficult situation. "That is the peril of being out front," he said about the presumed Democratic frontrunner in 2016. "Everyone wants to know what you think about everything, whether you want to talk or not."

Haynes pointed out that "Ferguson is a high priority for many African-Americans," which he called a "critical Democratic primary" voting bloc. However, on the other hand, he warned, "Others will observe her speaking about a local dispute as political and pandering."

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