Democrat presidential hopeful Sen. Bernie Sanders was attacked by his own supporters after telling a debate audience Tuesday night that white people “don’t know” poverty.
CNN’s Don Lemon asked the Vermont senator to discuss his “racial blindspots” during Saturday’s debate in Flint, Michigan. What came next let the self-described socialist’s base of support – both black and white – livid.
“When you’re white, you don’t know what it’s like to be living in a ghetto. You don’t know what it’s like to be poor. You don’t know what it’s like to be hassled when you walk down the street or you get dragged out of a car,” Sanders said.
The response to Sanders’ comments was fierce.
“My dad, a white guy, grew up so poor he had to catch his own dinner if he wanted to eat. Bernie can go f–k himself,” said a user named CJ on Twitter.
“A monumentally stupid comment, @BernieSanders. Racist toward both whites and non-whites, sh–s on all poor people,” added a user identified as Meteoryan.
A “Sanders for President” thread was even shut down on Reddit due to the backlash, Vocative reported Monday.
Washington Post opinion writer Jonathan Capehart said via Twitter, “He knows that all Black people don’t live in ghettos, right?”
A five-year study by the U.S. Census Bureau conducted from 2007 to 2011 indicates the senator’s comments may alienate over 11 percent of the population. The study concluded 11.6 percent of white Americans live in poverty.
Sanders will find out soon if his comments hurt him in Michigan. Democrat primary voters head to the polls on Tuesday. The 74-year-old has been victorious over Democrat front-runner Hillary Clinton in 8 of 19 states that have already voted, but he has little margin of error if he hopes to secure a winning coalition before July’s Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.
“We are having a very, very good weekend,” Sanders said Saturday from Detroit, Michigan, after winning in the Kansas and Nebraska contests, the New York Times reported. “We think we have a lot of momentum behind us as we continue forward.”