In 2008 the Rev. Al Sharpton had breakfast with then-Sen. Barack Obama. It was a historic meeting of the minds before the civil rights activist put his full support behind Obama’s push for president.
On Wednesday morning, Sharpton dined with Bernie Sanders, another presidential hopeful, at Sylvia’s Restaurant in Harlem. And while Sharpton hasn’t publicly endorsed anyone for president, the meeting with Hillary Clinton’s biggest opponent for the Democratic nomination two weeks before the South Carolina primary speaks volumes.
According to the New York Post, Sharpton has also dined recently with Kevin Sheekey, a top aide to Michael Bloomberg, “and offered praise of the former [New York City] mayor’s potential independent White House bid.”
Sanders, who won the New Hampshire primary Tuesday, has received several prominent African-American endorsements, including that of former NAACP leader Ben Jealous.
The Clintons have long maintained a friendly relationship with Sharpton, and the Post points out that since launching her presidential bid, Hillary Clinton has had several friendly interviews with Sharpton on his radio and TV shows.
Sharpton told the Daily Beast that it makes sense that candidates would reach out to him for advice and counsel when trying to court the black vote.
“I think that they have dealt with the reality that if people are going to address issues, they will have to address them with the people involved in the issues,” Sharpton told the Daily Beast. “You cannot appoint our leadership for us.
“We are not monolithic,” Sharpton added. “They have to talk to us transgenerationally. I am black radio five days a week. I am not guessing about what’s on the ground. I am on the ground.”