Former NBA star Charles Barkley, who was in attendance Tuesday night for the CNN-hosted Democratic presidential debates held in Detroit, Michigan, shared an unfavorable view of the debate structure.
Barkley criticized the Democratic and Republican candidates for overlooking the African-American community outside of a major election year.
“I think all politicians take black folks for granted. They talk to black folks every four years and that’s about it… and then do nothing about it,” Barkley told Yahoo News.
“Both parties suck in that aspect,” he added.
And the 56-year-old former basketball player isn’t convinced that anything he witnessed on night one of the debate indicated that things will change anytime soon.
“It’s an economic thing… and that’s what both parties have been neglecting, especially the Democratic party,” Barkley said.
“Every black person I know has always voted Democratic and, with the exception of a few guys who can play sports, all those people are still poor.”
That wasn’t Barkley’s first public criticism of the Democratic party and how they approach black voters. When he campaigned for Doug Jones’ 2017 Alabama Senate bid, Barkley had harsh words of advice for Democrats, saying they needed “to get off their a** and start making life better for black folks and people who are poor.”
According to Fox News, Barkley chimed in on the ten candidates’ debate performance in a post-debate “spin room” and partially blamed CNN for making it difficult to pick out a clear-cut Democratic challenger to President Donald Trump in the upcoming 2020 election.
“You can’t really judge anybody by seeing them on television, especially when you’ve got twenty people. Nobody gets a word in edgewise. That’s really unfortunate,” Barkley said.
The former athlete also took shots at Trump on the heels of his infamous tweet attacking Rep. Elijah Cummings and the Baltimore district he represents, calling the city a “rodent-infested mess” and questioned why anyone would want to live there.
The tweets drew heavy criticism and multiple responses from high-profile Democrats who suggested his attack on Cummings and the city “racist.”
Though Barkley didn’t call Trump a racist, he admitted that some of his remarks could be construed that way.
“I’m leery of calling people ‘racist.’ He says some things that can be construed as racist,” Barkley said. “Some things he’s said are very wrong and flagrant.”
Barkley explained that he didn’t attend the debate for any particular reason other than the fact that he always wanted to attend one, although he admitted that he leans toward South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, and former HUD Secretary Julián Castro.
The former NBA player currently works as an NBA analyst for TNT — a sister network to CNN.