Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton hopes to recover from a gruesome defeat to Sen. Bernie Sanders in the New Hampshire primary by putting racial issues “at the center” of her campaign, according to an in-depth report published Tuesday night by Politico.
“The [Clinton] campaign, sources said, is expected to push a new focus on systematic racism, criminal justice reform, voting rights and gun violence that will mitigate concerns about her lack of an inspirational message,” Politico writes. As part of this refocusing, Clinton plans to campaign alongside figures such as Sybrina Fulton, the mother of Trayvon Martin, and Gwen Carr, the mother of Eric Garner. Curiously, Politico refers to Trayvon Martin’s demise as a “law enforcement death,” though Martin was actually shot and killed during a fight with George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watchman not affiliated with any police department.
Another part of Clinton’s shift will be a stronger focus on gun control.
“The gun message went silent in New Hampshire,” remarked one ally close to the campaign. “Guns will come back in a strong way.” She is expected to highlight the problem of gun violence as the leading cause of death among African American men as she campaigns in South Carolina on Friday.
If Clinton is indeed reorienting her campaign towards issues of note to black voters, her concession speech Tuesday night offered a few hints of that shift.
“African-American parents shouldn’t have to worry that their children will be harassed, humiliated, even shot because of the color of their skin,” she said. Clinton also spoke of visiting Flint, Mich., where the heavily black population is coping with lead-contaminated water, and referenced her 1970s undercover work where she sought out evidence of anti-black racism at an Alabama school.
The refocusing makes sense for Clinton, whose shrinking national lead over Sanders relies on her still-substantial advantage among non-white voters. Non-white voters will also be particularly numerous in the upcoming contests in Nevada and South Carolina, which are looking more and more like must-wins for Clinton.
A focus on racial issues will also hopefully have more appeal to young voters, who are driving both the Sanders surge and the Black Lives Matter movement.
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