Bernie Sanders has triggered a backlash by making comments interpreted as an attack on Barack Obama on the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King.
The senator for Vermont appeared to criticise the first black US President as he branded the Democratic Party a “failure”.
Speaking in Jackson, Mississippi, he said Democrats had lost a record number of legislative seats.
“The business model, if you like, of the Democratic Party for the last 15 years or so has been a failure,’ said the Vermont Senator.
“People sometimes don’t see that because there was a charismatic individual named Barack Obama. He was obviously an extraordinary candidate, brilliant guy. But beyond that reality…”
Mr Sanders’ comments were quickly branded “patronising” and “deplorable”.
Actor Jeffrey Wright, who appeared in the James Bond and Hunger Games film series, said Mr Sanders was “giving a master class on expressing TOTAL ignorance of how black folks work.”
Nah, no, nope…Bernie…didn’t go down to Jackson…Mississippi…MLK assassination…50th anniversary…and try to drag…Obama…who ain’t perfect…at all. But. Bernie…if you want more than 3 southern black folks voting for you…you TRIPPIN’, ‘white working class Bernie.’ https://t.co/tGfUZRQbGc
— Jeffrey Wright (@jfreewright) April 5, 2018
Bernie Sanders dislike of Barack Obama’s administration/policies is what connects him to Trump voters.
That is what they can build a bridge on and it’s deplorable and disgusting.
— Amene (@Ange_Amene) April 5, 2018
The hills are alive with the sound of white people explaining why it was OK for Bernie Sanders to travel to Jackson, Ms and shit on Obama’s legacy on the 50th anniversary of King’s assassination.
— Ragnarok Lobster (@eclecticbrotha) April 5, 2018
Dr. Martin Luther king Jr warned us about white progressives like Bernie Sanders in his letter from Birmingham prison. On the 50th anniversary he decides it was appropriate to attack President Obama, and belittle the work Democrats have done for America in 15 years. Shame on you.
— Mr. Weeks ✊🏽 (@MrDane1982) April 5, 2018
Others suggested Bernie Sanders’ comments were being twisted and taken out of context by supporters of Hillary Clinton, who beat Mr Sanders to the Democratic nomination for the 2016 election.
it is amazing watching the still with her cultists contort this quote as an attack on Barack Obama.
Bernie Sanders is literally saying Obama was so good, you all missed the Democratic Party’s failures right under our nose.
lmao unbelievable https://t.co/rbCRUPJKaR
— Matt Binder (@MattBinder) April 5, 2018
Mr Sanders said that the Democratic Party “has got to be a 50-state party” and had to listen to voters all over the country, “including some of the poorest states”.
He is touted as a leading Democratic candidate for 2020 but recently refused to say whether he would run, telling the Burlington Free Press on Tuesday: “Well, 2020 is a little bit too far in the future.”
Does Bernie Sanders really believe he can run for the presidency in 2020, when he is constantly tearing down President Obama. He is a broken-down bitter and racist old man.
— E. Stamos (@BlueinPDX) April 5, 2018
Speaking at commemorations in Memphis, Tennessee, Mr Sanders told the crowd that Martin Luther King Jr was “one of the great leaders of American history”.
He said: “Dr Martin Luther King was not just a great civil rights leader. He was more than that. He was a nonviolent revolutionary.
“He was a man who wanted to transform our country morally, economically and racially.”
Barack Obama appeared on a video screen at an event at the scene of the assassination in Mississippi to say that progress had been made in civil rights but more needed to be done.
On April 4th, 1968 at 7:05 p.m. central time, Dr. King’s life was cut tragically short. 50 years later a need for his dream to be fulfilled is far greater than ever.
Share your dream & post your own #DreamStillLives video. Spread love…spread hope. pic.twitter.com/51BaCW78GC
— Stevie Wonder (@StevieWonder) April 5, 2018
The former President and his wife Michelle also appeared on a video released by Stevie Wonder – in his first Twitter post – to mark the anniversary.
The five-minute film also featured celebrities including Bette Midler, Billy Crystal, Dave Chappelle, Bon Jovi, Katy Perry, Serena Williams and Smokey Robinson.