(Bloomberg) -- Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg campaigned in Mississippi on Tuesday, where the mayor of Jackson said he appreciated the former New York mayor’s apology for “stop-and-frisk,” a policing tactic that disproportionately targeted men of color.
Bloomberg met with Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba and about 20 community leaders in Jackson -- where more than 80% of residents are black -- to discuss criminal justice reform, and Lumumba told reporters he had previously discussed his opposition to the policy with Bloomberg.
“I’m grateful that he has acknowledged that wasn’t proper,” Lumumba said before a roundtable discussion on crime and punishment, part of Bloomberg’s third campaign appearance after announcing his candidacy on Nov. 24.
Bloomberg apologized for “stop and frisk” a week before joining the race and told the group in Jackson on Tuesday that while his aim was to save lives, he regrets the impact the policy had, and “no one should ever feel targeted or judged by the color of their skin, especially by police.”
Democratic strategists have said the former New York mayor’s past support for “stop and frisk” is a potential liability in his presidential bid because of its impact on blacks and Hispanics, key Democratic constituencies. Mississippi Representative Bennie Thompson, who is black, tweeted after Bloomberg’s Nov. 17 apology: “It’s too late for fake apologies.”
Asked about Thompson’s comment Tuesday, Bloomberg said the congressman was entitled to his opinion and that he was trying to learn from his mistake. Bloomberg unveiled three criminal justice proposals based on initiatives he said worked in New York and said he would release a comprehensive plan in coming weeks.
Bloomberg proposes a national initiative to reduce the approximately 53,000 youths incarcerated in the U.S. by half during his first term if elected, expanding federal funding of alternatives to adult incarceration while spending more on programs that help released prisoners re-enter society, as well as supporting community-based programs to prevent crime.
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The former New York mayor is trying the untested strategy of skipping the early-voting states, where his rivals have been campaigning for months, and focusing on states such as Mississippi that vote during primaries in March when more delegates are at stake.
Mississippi has 36 pledged delegates available in its March 10 Democratic primary, plus five super delegates who will vote if there’s a second ballot at the party convention in Milwaukee in July. Pledged delegates are awarded to candidates proportionally based on their vote statewide and by congressional district, for those who garner at least 15% of the vote.
Bloomberg told reporters after the private roundtable discussion that he reconsidered a decision early this year not to run in 2020 because of a growing division in the country and a fear the current crop of Democratic candidates couldn’t beat President Donald Trump.
“I saw it getting worse, and I didn’t think that any of the candidates out there would be able to keep Donald Trump from having a second term -- which has got to be one of the primary things we do,” Bloomberg said. “It’d be very difficult to reverse four years of incompetence. The mind boggles at thinking that you’d have to reverse eight years.”
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