WASHINGTON — New York Democratic Rep. Charlie Rangel said Wednesday that black voters cannot identify Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.
Rangel made the comments in an interview with The Daily Caller about subway crime in New York City. He said that while fear of being attacked on the subway is “real” and an “awkward thing” he could not imagine anyone going to sleep tonight thinking about that problem.
“I can think of them thinking, ‘Am I going to have that job? Am I going to have that promotion? How am I going to pay this damn rent? Are these Republican candidates serious? Do they really need to say these things in order to get elected? And who is Bernie Sanders? Does anybody in the community know him, so that we can find out who he is?’ These are things that we are talking about,” said Rangel, who has endorsed Hillary Clinton.
When pressed about his statement about Sanders, Rangel responded that he is not the one who is asking these questions for Clinton’s primary opponent.
“Not me, but I don’t know any black person who knows Bernie Sanders,” he said.
Rangel gave a scenario of someone asking him about Sanders.
“If you ask me, ‘who is that? A nice member of Congress?’ He’s a nice member of the Senate.”
“‘Well, Rangel, we didn’t ask you that. We asked you your involvement do you know anybody?'”
“I said, ‘No. I don’t know anybody. I don’t know anybody who knows anybody,’ but it’s not [Sanders’] fault.”
The New York Democrat explained, “You know I’m probably one of the biggest advocates for Korean Americans that you can find. But I don’t think really if a Korean American was running I am going to get many votes. I mean, you know, so it doesn’t mean that Rangel doesn’t have their interest at heart. I have never been in the position where I had to prove who I am.”
What is the difference between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders when it comes to black voters?
Rangel became agitated when question was framed this way and preferred to respond with the main differences he saw between the two candidates.
Rangel knew of Clinton when she was a staffer on the Democratic Watergate Committee and he served on the Judiciary Committee.
“After that, a very unusual warm relationship was forged between me and her husband with the empowerment zones,” Rangel said noting the opportunity eventually came along for Hillary to run for Senate and beat Rudy Giuliani.
However, her opponent ended up being former New York Republican Rep. Rick Lazio, and the race became more of a coronation than a competition.
“But then when you take the fact that this Bill Clinton was able to convince black southerners that he was one of them, which I could not believe. Between John Lewis and Andrew Young, it’s unbelievable to see how much the southern culture means more than color,” said Rangel.
“All this grits and all this butter. When she marries into that family of southerners, just her whole life changes from what one would find in Vermont,” he added, an explicit shot at Sanders.
So did Hillary need Bill’s southern culture for political credibility?Rangel became irritated with this question and threatened to ignore it all together.
“Do you really think that Bill Clinton married her in order to get ahead? I really thought she looked at him and she knew that there were limitations in what she could do,” he said.
“But she saw the potential in this guy and it’s hardly a question in my mind that without her support Bill Clinton would not have been able to have achieved what he has been able to do. And I feel that with all of my heart.”
As Rangel decided it was time to leave, he said while laughing, “By the way, I want to say something nice about Bernie, but I have to think.”