Just ahead of the first Republican presidential debate, Hillary Clinton told civil rights activist Rev. Al Sharpton Thursday that Republicans are being “nakedly partisan” when they impose restrictions on voting rights in the name of rooting out voter fraud.
"I don't think I need to watch it," Clinton said on Sharpton’s "Keepin' It Real" radio show of the GOP debate, “to know that nearly everybody standing on that stage in the first or the second debate has either actively sought to limit the right to vote in their states or supported the efforts to limit the right to vote if they were not governors, but in the Congress.”
Clinton added that Republicans clearly design limits to affect racial minorities and other groups that tend to vote Democratic. "It is so nakedly partisan to try to limit the electorate,” she continued.
“I doubt that in this first debate, they will be asked to justify their support for restrictions on the franchise, but I can tell you, whoever I sit across from in the debates in the general election, I will be raising this I such a fundamental constitutional right,” Clinton added.
Energizing minorities to turn out at the polls will be critical if Clinton makes it to the general election; she’s made outreach to blacks and Latinos an early priority, including with the interview Thursday with Sharpton. Shaprton also hosts a show on MSNBC.
“As President, I would work to adopt additional reforms to make it easier, not harder, for every citizen to vote."'
Thursday marks the 50th Anniversary of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which dramatically expanding voting rights for African-Americans.
Earlier in the day, Clinton released a statement reiterating her call for improving voter access and condemning last year’s Supreme Court decision that gutted parts of the 1965 law. “As President, I would work to adopt additional reforms to make it easier, not harder, for every citizen to vote,” she said in the statement.
On Sharpton's show, she also discussed police brutality, which has become a hot button issue in the "Black Lives Matter" movement. Clinton called for using federal funds to incentivize better police practice, “rather than buy weapons of war, which have no place on our streets.”
Clinton also reiterated her calls to help police departments equip their officers with body cameras and better training. “There is a very compelling and unfortunately tragic set of facts that illustrate why need criminal justice at top of national agenda,” she said. “I think we need to end mass incarceration.”
Democratic challenger Martin O'Malley, meanwhile, has called for a constitutional amendment to guarantee voting rights. Fellow candidate Bernie Sanders wrote an op-ed in the Huffington Post Wednesday calling for reforms and saying the attack on voting rights was another attempt by the billionaire class to limit democracy.