HOUSTON — Bernie Sanders really wants to connect with black women voters. But at a conference here earlier this week, he was barely able to say he was at the March on Washington in 1963 before the groans started.
The crowd at “She the People,” touted as the first policy forum specifically for women of color in politics, wasn’t impressed.
“He brought up marching with Martin Luther King and working on Jesse Jackson’s campaign, and I’m like, ‘It’s 2019, what are you doing now, today?’” Lashelle Scott, 43, a Democratic precinct chairwoman, told VICE News.
Democrats know they need back women to turn out in 2020 if they expect to win back the White House. But no one currently running for president — except maybe Joe Biden — has any track record of doing that. That’s why eight Democratic candidates showed up in Houston to give town hall–like interviews.
Who did the worst? In our informal poll of three, it was unanimous: Bernie. “I don’t know why he was screaming,” Debra Jones, 62, a retired factory supervisor, said. “He was frustrated,” Scott added.
So who do they like? That was unanimous too: Sen. Elizabeth Warren.
“Elizabeth Warren wants to give us a planned text on how she plans to implement free college,” Johnson said. “However, with Bernie he just says, ‘We’ll give you free college, but don’t worry about the plan right now.’”
Sanders has struggled with winning over people of color in 2016. He had a rally that was protested by Black Lives Matter activists. And Hillary Clinton swept up 86 percent of the black vote in the primaries.
But his base is already more diverse this time around. A poll from March showed that Sanders has twice as much support among black voters as Sen. Kamala Harris does.
As for Joe Biden, who made his presidential campaign official on Thursday but wasn’t at She the People? “Joe would really have to bring it,” Scott said, in order to convince them that he’s a more compelling candidate than Warren.
This segment originally aired April 25, 2019, on VICE News Tonight on HBO.