CLEVELAND — Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke, an outspoken conservative who makes frequent cable news appearances, says he has ruled out supporting Rand Paul for president because of his past “pandering” to Al Sharpton.
The Daily Caller spoke to Clarke Thursday inside the Quicken Loans arena here before the Republican presidential debate.
Asked about the candidates, Clarke said: “I’ve been real disappointed in Rand Paul…I felt he was pandering. Early on, he met with Al Sharpton. And I don’t care who people meet with, but the reason he gave for meeting with Al Sharpton was he wanted to get the black perspective of things.”
Added Clarke: “I thought that’s insulting. Al Sharpton is so far removed from the black perspective.”
In 2014, Paul and Sharpton had breakfast to talk about criminal justice and the Republican’s trip to Ferguson. “We don’t agree on much, but he’s an interesting guy,” Paul tweeted at the time.
Paul often references how he’s a “different kind of Republican” who has traveled to inner cities to talk about criminal justice with minority audiences.
Speaking to TheDC, Clarke said while he has met with a number of Republican candidates, he has yet to meet Paul. “You know, if he was looking for the black perspective, he could have reached out to me as well,” he said. “I’m not an unknown.”
As for his advice to Paul, Clarke said: “If you want to find out the black perspective, you need to start treating black people as individuals. Go down and start talking to people. Hang in some of these areas. The barber shops, the churches. And get a multitude of perspectives, not just one.”
Addressing Sharpton, Clarke said: “He doesn’t speak for all black people. So when I saw that, I thought typical pandering.”
In terms of supporting somebody else in the primary, Clarke said: “Right now, I’m supporting the process. This is where it starts. It’s early in the game.”
“I like a number of these people,” he added. “Scott Walker, I’m a little biased, because of my relationship with him. We’re friends. But I’ve met a lot of these people, and got to spend some time talking to them.”
Paul adviser Elroy Sailor responded to Clarke in a statement to TheDC. “As senator and a presidential candidate, Rand Paul has taken the time to visit with residents in communities like Atlanta, Detroit, and Ferguson,” Sailor said. “Sen. Paul has taken the lead in offering solutions that create jobs and prosperity as well as criminal justice reforms because he understands that for America to sustain her greatness all communities must succeed.”