The Rev. Al Sharpton warned Democratic presidential candidates Friday against engaging in “political cannibalism” during the nomination process and urged them to focus on the bigger picture of defeating President Trump in the general election.
Sharpton, who founded the civil rights advocacy group National Action Network, also addressed the political infighting between Democratic frontrunner Joe Biden and black Sens. Kamala Harris and Cory Booker, both of whom challenged the former vice president’s record on civil rights.
“Let’s stop here now, because all of us in public life have done things you could capitalize on,” Sharpton said Friday on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” Sharpton explained that by fighting among themselves, the 2020 Democratic hopefuls "do Trump's job for him."
“None of us are diametrically opposed to the voting rights and gender rights and LGBTQ rights and civil rights of people like Donald Trump is,” Sharpton said of the Democratic 2020 hopefuls. “Save your fire for the main event. Don’t shoot all your bullets now and come into the main event with an empty gun.”
Speaking to African-American voters at the NAACP convention in Los Angeles on Wednesday, Biden said he’s not going to be “as polite” with Harris during next week’s round of Democratic presidential debates in Detroit.
During their debate in Miami in June, Harris confronted Biden on his opposition decades ago to federally mandated school busing. That same night, the California Democrat also criticized comments Biden had made about his ability to find common ground during the 1970s with segregationist senators with whom he disagreed.
During Wednesday’s convention, Booker, a Democrat from New Jersey, also challenged Biden’s support of a 1994 Clinton-era crime bill that critics claim was responsible for the mass incarceration of black men in the U.S. Biden countered by criticizing the so-called "stop-and-frisk" tactic used against African-American men in Newark, N.J., while Booker was mayor there from 2006 to 2013.
Sharpton wrapped up his appearance on the MSNBC program by recommending the Democratic candidates define their differences and not waste too much energy and fire “when it ought to be all directed at who’s trying to turn back the clock in this country,” a jab aimed at President Trump.