Bernie Sanders on Thursday night argued that the fruits of his economic agenda would help ease racial tensions in America.
Asked by PBS debate moderator Judy Woodruff if “race relations would be better under a Sanders presidency than they’ve been,” the Vermont senator replied, “Absolutely.”
“Because what we will do is say, instead of giving tax breaks to millionaires, we are going to create millions of jobs for low-income kids so they’re not hanging out on street corners,” he said. “We’re going to make sure that those kids stay in school or are able get a college education. So I think that when you give low-income kids, African-American, white, Latino kids, the opportunities to get their lives together, they are not going to end up in jail. They’re going to end up in the productive economy, which is where we want them.”
Members of the Clinton campaign quickly seized on Sanders’ answer, calling it a dig at President Barack Obama.
“Now Sanders is promising to do more to improve race relations than President Obama?” Clinton press secretary Brian Fallon tweeted in response, while Christina Reynolds, a top communications aide, asked, “Wait, what?”
Others sought to tie Sanders’ remark on race to another he made Wednesday, suggesting that although Obama “made the effort,” he had failed to close the gap between Americans and Congress.
“Today Bernie has attacked Obama’s leadership & said race relations will be better under Pres. Sanders,” Jesse Lehrich, from Clinton’s rapid response team, said in a tweet.