Bernie Sanders has earned the endorsement of an influential Flint politician just days before a key vote in Michigan, a nod that could help in his bid to overcome Hillary Clinton’s big advantage there.
Just ahead of Sunday night’s debate in the embattled Michigan city, Sanders touted the endorsement of Don W. Riegle Jr., who served in both the House and Senate, and grew up in Flint.
Standing shoulder to shoulder, Riegle said Bernie Sanders was “someone you can trust,” noting that he was far ahead of other candidates from either party.
"He stands head and shoulders above all the other candidates in either party," Riegel says, adding he's "someone you can trust."— Amy Chozick (@amychozick) March 6, 2016
As The Hill noted, the endorsement came at a key time for Bernie Sanders. After victories in Kansas and Nebraska on Saturday, Sanders won again in Maine on Sunday. Though Hillary Clinton won in Louisiana by a wide margin, Sanders has been able to string enough victories together to extend the race.
One of the most important tests could come on Tuesday, when the candidates compete for Michigan’s 147 delegates. Hillary Clinton has held double-digit leads over Bernie Sanders, but the endorsement from Don Riegle Jr. could help to swing some momentum in Sanders’ favor.
Riegle attacked both Bill and Hillary Clinton, saying it was their policies that destroyed the depressed city.
Riegle, who grew up in Flint, used the press conference to attack Bill and Hillary Clinton, saying their policies were bad for his hometown. Riegle repeatedly said that Bill Clinton’s policies “destroyed the Flint I loved,” Chozik reported.
“The Clintons rammed NAFTA down the throats of the American people with false promises,” Riegle said.
The endorsement, combined with a blistering debate performance in which Sanders put Clinton on her heels several times, could help build momentum toward Tuesday’s vote and beyond.
Though Bernie Sanders still has a difficult path to the Democratic nomination, he has been earning some key backers in the past few weeks.
Last week, he earned the endorsement of one of the most prominent members of Bill Clinton’s cabinet, former labor secretary Robert Reich.
Reich wrote in a Facebook post that Sanders is “leading a movement to reclaim America for the many, not the few.”
“And such a political mobilization – a ‘political revolution,’ as he puts it — is the only means by which we can get the nation back from the moneyed interests that now control so much of our economy and democracy.”
“This extraordinary concentration of income, wealth, and political power at the very top imperils all else – our economy, our democracy, the revival of the American middle class, the prospects for the poor and for people of color, the necessity of slowing and reversing climate change, and a sensible foreign policy not influenced by the ‘military-industrial complex,’ as President Dwight Eisenhower once called it. It is the fundamental prerequisite: We have little hope of achieving positive change on any front unless the American people are once again in control.”
While Reich maintains a good relationship with the Clintons and said he would support Hillary if she were to win the nomination, the endorsement was an important one as it showed that Sanders could earn support, even from within the Clinton camp.
Bernie Sanders has also been winning endorsements that cut into Hillary Clinton’s key strengths. Last month, he earned the backing of LUCHA, one of the most influential Latino rights groups in Arizona. Even though the advocacy group had never endorsed a political candidate before, members implored the group to back Sanders as his ideals matched up perfectly with the organization’s key points of emphasis.
“Every day, we hear the stories of Moms working at fast-food restaurants for 11 years and only making $11 an hour and students who want to get more involved but their tuition is squeezing them,” said Alejandra Gomez, co-executive director of LUCHA. “At every turn, our community is being squeezed, and the only candidate speaking for them is Bernie.”
This was also seen as an important step for Bernie Sanders, who has been trying to make inroads with non-white voters, including Latinos. It may be seen on Tuesday whether the endorsement of Don W. Riegle Jr. can help Sanders hold Clinton’s expected margin of victory in Michigan.
[Image via Instagram/Bernie Sanders]