Al Sharpton, Bill Maher, Ta-Nehisi Coates show support for Sanders

By Ann Marie Awad  |  Feb. 10, 2016 at 2:59 PM
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NEW YORK, Feb. 10 (UPI) -- Fresh off his big win in New Hampshire, Sen. Bernie Sanders met with Rev. Al Sharpton in New York City on Wednesday morning.

Sharpton greeted Sanders outside of Sylvia's, a famous soul food restaurant in Harlem, with a hug, and the two went inside to talk over coffee. Ben Jealous, former president of the NAACP, joined them. Jealous endorsed Sanders last week.

Sanders heads next to South Carolina, which holds its Democratic primary contest on Feb. 23. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is expected to lean on her considerable support among black and Latino voters in the coming weeks. Sanders' meeting with Sharpton is a nod that Sanders is gearing up for a hard battle.

Also on Wednesday morning, Bill Maher, host of the HBO show "Real Time With Bill Maher" penned an essay in The Hollywood Reporter praising Sanders, comparing him to Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

"We haven't seen a true leftist since FDR, so many millions are coming out of the woodwork to vote for Bernie Sanders; he is the Occupy movement now come to life in the political arena," Maher wrote. "These are people who have sat out for a long time because the Democrats became a corporatist, center-right party and the Republicans became radically right (and, of course, just plain nuts in many ways)."

However, Maher did tell his overwhelmingly liberal audience that if Clinton wins the nomination, they should vote for her.

"I've told my audience, who are overwhelmingly for Bernie: If you're on a plane and they don't have your first choice — the fish — eat the chicken!" he wrote. "That's Hillary; no one is exactly excited, but that's not all her fault."

The outpouring of support in the wake of Sanders' New Hampshire win doesn't stop there. On Wednesday, author Ta-Nehisi Coates told Democracy Now! he plans to vote for Sanders, despite his earlier criticisms of the Vermont Senator.

Coates said he was "stunned" by Sanders' success. "But I think it's awesome. You know, I think it's great," he said. "You know, like a lot of people, I'm very, very concerned about Senator Clinton's record. I'm very, very concerned about where her positions were in the 1990s, when we had some of the most disgusting legislation in terms of our criminal justice, really, in this country's history. I get really, really concerned when I see somebody taking $600,000 in speaking fees from Goldman Sachs, will not release what they're actually saying. That's concerning. And so, having options, not having this be a coronation, I think, is a good thing. So, I'm stunned, but I'm pleasantly stunned."

Coates, a staff writer for The Atlantic, penned a 2014 story called "The Case for Reparations," arguing that America owed a debt to black people due to a legacy of racist policies. At the Iowa Black and Brown forum, Sanders and Clinton were both asked if they supported reparations, to which they both said no. Coates later took Sanders to task, saying his opposition to reparations didn't match up with the rest of his revolutionary ideology.

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