John Lewis On Sanders’ Civil Rights Record: ‘I Never Saw Him’

February 11, 2016 12:20 p.m.

Rep. John Lewis (D-GA), a supporter of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, slammed the civil rights record of her rival Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) on Thursday.

According to several reporters, Lewis said this of Sanders: “I never saw him. I never met him.”

His full comments, according to Mother Jones:

Well, to be very frank, I’m going to cut you off, but I never saw him, I never met him. I’m a chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee for three years, from 1963 to 1966. I was involved in the sit-ins, the freedom rides, the March on Washington, the march from Selma to Montgomery, and directed their voter education project for six years. But I met Hillary Clinton. I met President Clinton.

Lewis endorsed Clinton in October and is expected to campaign for the former secretary of state this weekend in South Carolina.

Lewis has referred to his efforts to secure the right to vote for African Americans, including his arrest, as getting in “good trouble.”

South Carolina House Democratic Leader J. Todd Rutherford, who has also endorsed Clinton, recently told the Washington Post that Sanders’ record on civil rights was “thin.” Rutherford told the newspaper he was troubled by Sanders’ vote in favor of the 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, signed into law by former President Bill Clinton.

“He only really started talking about issues concerning African Americans in the last 40 days,” Rutherford said.

Rev. Al Sharpton, who met with Sanders Wednesday in Harlem, also pushed back on Sanders’ laser-sharp focus on income inequality. He called it “a monolith.”

“One of the things I was saying to Sen. Sanders is saying that we got to deal with income equality and wages is fine but what about the race element of that? Because even in that there’s not a monolith. There’s racism involved,” Sharpton said in a Thursday appearance on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” “He did not address that directly. That’s what I was pressing him on.”

The Congressional Black Caucus PAC chose Clinton over Sanders to receive its endorsement Thursday. The board’s vote in favor of Clinton was “overwhelming and near unanimous,” chairman and Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-NC) told The Hill.

Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) said the endorsement was made without the caucus’s consultation.

Mother Jones described the PAC as “somewhat separate” from the caucus of 46 House members. The group is chaired by Rep. Gergory Meeks along with a 20-person board of “seven CBC members and several lobbyists, lawyers, and consultants.”

This post has been updated.

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