Rev. Jesse Jackson backs Sanders for president: ‘A people far behind cannot catch up choosing the most moderate path’

Rev. Jesse Jackson backs Sanders for president: ‘A people far behind cannot catch up choosing the most moderate path’

The Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr. announced his endorsement of Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders on March 8, 2020. | AP Photos

The endorsement came a day after Sanders drew thousands of supporters to a rally at Grant Park as his campaign gears up for the March 17 Illinois primary.

The Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr. on Sunday announced his endorsement of Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders.

The endorsement came a day after Sen. Sanders (I-VT.) drew thousands of supporters to a rally at Grant Park as his campaign gears up for the March 17 Illinois primary. Jackson is scheduled to appear at a Sanders rally later Sunday in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

“With the exception of Native Americans, African Americans are the people who are most behind socially and economically in the United States, and our needs are not moderate,” Jackson said in a statement issued by the Sanders campaign.

“A people far behind cannot catch up choosing the most moderate path. The most progressive social and economic path gives us the best chance to catch up, and Senator Bernie Sanders represents the most progressive path. That’s why I choose to endorse him today.”

Jackson is no stranger to presidential politics.

The Civil Rights icon and leader of the Rainbow/Push Coalition staged a pair of unsuccessful presidential bids in the ‘80s, garnering grassroots support on the back of a liberal agenda that resembles Sanders’ current platform. That included plans to provide free community college for all and create a single-payer health care system.

In the 1988 Democratic primary, Jackson earned 6.9 million votes and won 11 primary contests. Michael Dukakis, the former Massachusetts governor, ultimately won the party’s nomination but lost to George H.W. Bush in the general election.

Sanders’ key competitor in the Democratic primary, former Vice President Joe Biden, also made a short-lived run for the party’s nomination during that election cycle. On Sunday, Jackson said Biden’s campaign didn’t seek his endorsement in the current race.

Biden is nevertheless considered the Democratic frontrunner after scoring a series of victories on Super Tuesday and notching endorsements from a list of his former primary opponents. Sanders took aim at Biden’s voting record during Saturday’s rally, slamming his opponent’s support for the Iraq war, the Wall Street bailout, the abortion-related Hyde Amendment and trade agreements, like NAFTA.

“Joe Biden and I are friends. I have known him for many years, but we have different records. We have a different vision. The American people will hear about it,” Sanders said.

Biden and Sanders will face off Tuesday in six primary elections, including a pivotal electoral battle in Michigan.

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