Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) drew criticism Thursday after saying many white voters within the South who felt “uncomfortable” voting for black candidates for the primary time have been “not essentially racist.”

The remark got here in an interview with The Every day Beast printed Thursday, during which the senator mentioned the difficulties confronted by black gubernatorial candidates Andrew Gillum in Florida and Stacey Abrams in Georgia.

“I believe you already know there are a number of white of us on the market who should not essentially racist who felt uncomfortable for the primary time of their lives about whether or not or not they needed to vote for an African-American,” Sanders informed the outlet. “I believe subsequent time round, by the best way, it will likely be so much simpler for them to try this.” 

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Various writers and activists of shade called Sanders out for implying it wasn’t racist to reject a candidate based mostly on race.

“Many would outline not supporting somebody based mostly solely on race as racist,” PBS correspondent Yamiche Alcindor noted.

HuffPost requested Sanders’ workplace to make clear whether or not he believes it’s inherently racist for a white voter to oppose a candidate as a result of that candidate is black. A spokesman for the senator pointed HuffPost to Sanders’ bigger condemnation of racist rhetoric employed by President Donald Trump, Florida gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis and Georgia gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp throughout their campaigns.

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Kemp, who resigned Thursday as Georgia’s secretary of state though the governor’s race could head to a runoff, was accused of holding again over 53,000 voter-registration functions ― almost 7 in 10 of which have been from black residents ― over minor errors.

DeSantis, who has been mired in racist scandals, refused to return marketing campaign contributions from a donor who referred to former President Barack Obama as a “Muslim n****r” in a tweet.

“They used racist rhetoric to divide folks and advance agendas that may hurt nearly all of People,” Sanders stated in a press release on Twitter later Thursday. “We’ve bought to proceed doing the whole lot that we are able to to struggle all types of racism.”

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Regardless of making efforts to achieve out to black voters ― each throughout the 2016 presidential election and extra not too long ago as he weighs a run in 2020 ― Sanders has additionally tried to keep away from “identification politics” as a part of his message.

“My aim is to deliver forth a progressive agenda that speaks to the wants of working folks, whether or not they’re black, white or Latino, and get folks concerned within the political course of in a means now we have not seen in a really very long time,” he informed The Related Press in April.

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