NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Campaign 2016 came to New York City again Tuesday, as the Rev. Al Sharpton met with Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton in Lower Manhattan.
The meeting came almost a week after Sharpton meet with Clinton’s rival candidate, Bernie Sanders, in Harlem.
CBS2’s Janelle Burrell spoke with Sharpton before the meeting about the issues they’d be discussing.
“I’ll talk to her about the situation that we face from a civil rights point of view,” he said. “Clearly there is an economic issue but there’s a race issue and I think to talk about economics without talking about race, to talk about the criminal justice system without talking about the race and the disproportionate impact based on race is something that we need to have addressed by whomever is going to be the next president.”
During the meeting, Clinton was flanked by Sharpton and National Urban League President Mark Moriale as they expressed to her their concerns about voting rights, affirmative action, police-community relations and other issues.
“My campaign is really about breaking every barrier,” Clinton said. “I’m not a single issue candidate and we don’t live in a single issue country and we have work to do and that work can only be done in partnership.”
Last week, Sharpton had a breakfast with Sanders at the famed Sylvia’s Restaurant a day after Sanders trounced Clinton in the New Hampshire primary, taking 60 percent of the votes to Clinton’s 38 percent.
The two met for about 30 minutes. Speaking to reporters afterwards, Sharpton said they discussed a variety of topics from the water crisis in Flint, Michigan to issues of police brutality.
As CBS2 Political Reporter Marcia Kramer reported, Clinton tried to one-up Sanders. She also met with other leading civil rights leaders, demanding an end to systemic racism ahead of the primary in South Carolina and the caucus in Nevada.
Clinton also went to Harlem to demand programs to break down barriers holding back African-American families, and programs to send more kids to college.
“Race still plays a significant role in determining who gets ahead in America and who gets left behind,” Clinton said. “Anyone asking for your vote has a responsibility to grapple with this reality.”
Clinton hoped her speech in Harlem would serve as a megaphone to minority voters in South Carolina and Nevada. She was left in desperate need of a win after losing to Sanders in New Hampshire.
In her speech, Clinton called for a $2 billion plan to reform school disciplinary policies that feed the so-called school-to-prison pipeline.
“When we make direct strategic investments in communities that have been left behind, and when we guarantee justice and dignity to every American, then we really can make progress,” Clinton said.
But it remained unclear Tuesday whom civil rights leaders would back, including Sharpton.
“Our votes must be earned, and we are not a monolithic people,” he said.
Sharpton said he’d like to see every candidate in both parties meet with the group and said he’ll be heading to South Carolina next week to get out the primary vote, 1010 WINS’ Juliet Papa reported.
Meanwhile, Sanders picked up the endorsement of Erica Garner – the daughter of Eric Garner, whose chokehold death in NYPD custody on Staten Island sparked national protests in 2014.
“I believe that he is the best candidate,” Erica Garner said. “He stood for the people even when it wasn’t popular.”
Also Tuesday, President Barack Obama was asked at an unrelated news conference about claims by Clinton that she was the legacy and keeper of his legacy, while Sanders was disloyal to him. Obama responded that the candidates have more commonalities in their positions than differences.
“That’s the great thing about primaries is everybody’s trying to differentiate themselves, when in fact, Bernie and Hillary agree on a lot of stuff and disagree pretty much across the board with everything the Republicans stand for,” Obama said. “So my hope is that we can let the primary voters and caucus goers have their say for a while, and let’s see how things play out.”
Obama said he knows Clinton better than Sanders personally, since Clinton served in his administration, “and she was an outstanding secretary of state.” He said he suspects Clinton agrees with him on some issues more than Sanders does, and vice versa.
Ultimately, Obama said, Democratic voters believe in the same things, and he further added, “I am not unhappy that I am not on the ballot.”
The Republicans were also battling ferociously for the South Carolina vote Tuesday. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush said he would be the best candidate to beat the Democrats because he is experienced in the rough-and-tumble world of politics.
“The Democratic nominee is going to scrape the bark off whoever the Republican is,” Bush said, “so an untested person with an unproven record – as gifted as they are in terms of their ability to speak – is just going to get into the meat grinder,” Bush said.
His remarks were an obvious reference to Donald Trump, who was also in South Carolina speaking about bark, or rather, barking. He poked fun at Clinton for saying she needs a dog trained to bark when politicians say something that is not true.
“Every time they say these things like, ‘Oh, the Great Recession was caused by too much regulation,’ arf, arf, arf!” Clinton said. “You know?”
“Hillary Clinton is a joke,” Trump fired back. “I’m watching television and I see her barking like a dog. If I ever did that, I would be ridiculed all over the place.”
For his own part, Trump offered what he thought was a winning combination for winning over voters.
He introduced a local woman whose family was threatened with losing the family farm. It was 30 years ago, she said, but they kept the farm because Trump himself paid off the mortgage.