There is a fragile bridge that connects Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and New York City-based activist Al Sharpton — a bridge built more on mutual needs and political self-interest than full and open trust.
That’s the picture Sharpton paints in an interview with Politico.
“People close to Sharpton say he likes Clinton, and is probably inclined to endorse her – but he doesn’t quite trust her, wants to see how her sputtering campaign performs, and is intent on exercising maximum leverage on the issues he cares most about: community policing, sentencing laws, urban economic development,” wrote Glenn Thrush. “When I turn the tape off, he says, ‘The minute you endorse you become a surrogate and I want to be an advocate.’”
Asked by Thrush if Clinton “gets” race, Sharpton avoided a declarative answer.
“I think she’s familiar with it,” Sharpton said. “She worked for Marian Wright Edelman as he marched for Dr. King, and I think that her husband and his Arkansas background and living more with blacks, they were more ‘accultured.’ But comfort and culture is two different things.”
Sharpton left no doubt that he would endorse in this year’s presidential contest. Eight years ago, he supported Barack Obama over Clinton and said, “Hillary Clinton has never done nothing for us.” Sharpton later clarified that to mean Clinton never supported his specific organization, but his words were given a much wider interpretation at the time.
During the Politico interview, Sharpton also talked about GOP candidate Donald Trump, like Sharption a child of New York City.
“The best way I can describe Donald Trump to friends is to say if Don King had been born white he’d be Donald Trump,” Sharpton said. “Both of them are great self-promoters and great at just continuing to talk even if you’re not talking back at ’em.”
Sharption said he dislikes what Trump is doing in his campaign, but not the man himself.
“I mean, I don’t like what he’s doing. But I don’t dislike him. He’s the kind of personality that is hard to dislike–he’s entertaining, let’s put it that way … You’d have to be a New Yorker to understand him,” Sharpton said.