Feb 11, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Sanders co-chair: Bloomberg should drop out over stop-and-frisk

Mike Bloomberg walks near his campaign bus in Compton

Bloomberg campaigns in California, Feb. 3. Photo: Scott Varley/MediaNews Group/Torrance Daily Breeze via Getty Images

MANCHESTER, N.H. — Bernie Sanders' national campaign co-chair called on Michael Bloomberg to drop out of the presidential race Tuesday after newly surfaced audio from a 2015 speech he gave showed how the former New York mayor defended stop-and-frisk and advocated for putting "all the cops" in minority neighborhoods. 

What they're saying: "What has been exposed is the true nature of Mayor Bloomberg, so one apology just because you're running for president does not erase the damage that you have done," Nina Turner told Axios in the lobby of the DoubleTree hotel in Manchester. 

  • "He should not be running now that that has come up. I think he should drop out of the race." 
  • Turner later clarified that this was not the campaign's official view, and that Sanders himself hasn't taken a position on it.

Why it matters: The audio of Bloomberg's remarks is drawing a harsh new spotlight to his record on stop-and-frisk. Bloomberg has apologized and gave a sweeping speech on racial disparities in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in January where he admitted: "My story might have turned out very differently if I had been black."

  • Turner said she was coming from a place "as a black woman in America; not as somebody that works for Sen. Bernie Sanders."
  • She went on to talk about her black son, who works in law enforcement and has to deal with the inherent distrust between police and black and brown communities.
  • "The distaste that so many black people and brown people and poor people have for law enforcement comes from policies like [stop-and-frisk]," she said. 

The Bloomberg campaign didn't respond to a request for comment, though Bloomberg said in a statement Tuesday that "this issue and my comments about it do not reflect my commitment to criminal justice reform and racial equity."

  • Bloomberg met with a group of 20+ African American faith leaders at his campaign headquarters today, and they released a statement saying in part: “To be clear: None of us believe that Mike Bloomberg is a racist. Actions speak louder than words, and Mike has a long record of fighting for equality, civil rights, and criminal justice reform.”

Other Democratic campaigns have been more cautious about the Bloomberg remarks. "Mike needs to offer an explanation to voters, especially those in communities of color, who were victimized by Stop and Frisk and continue to be victimized by racist policing tactics,” Tom Steyer said in a statement Tuesday.

  • A new Quinnipiac University poll found that among black primary voters, Bloomberg jumped to the second spot, at 22%, slightly ahead of Sanders.

Turner also called Bloomberg a "symbol" of the "oligarchy" in the U.S. and criticized his campaign spending — saying he's trying to buy his way to the White House.

  • "Going further, his whole arrogance in terms of really just flat-out trying to buy this election — he's not building a movement, he's not going out talking to people about his ideas and collecting information from them about what the future of the country should look like. He's just $350 million worth of TV ads."

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Editor's note: This story has been updated to note that Turner's views are not the official position of the campaign.

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