In this Jan. 12, 2016, photo, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks during a campaign event at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa. Challenged anew by Bernie Sanders, Clinton is reverting to some of the same themes, even strikingly similar attack lines, from her 2008 primary loss to Barack Obama. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
In this Jan. 12, 2016, photo, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks during a campaign event at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa. Challenged anew by Bernie Sanders, Clinton is reverting to some of the same themes, even strikingly similar attack lines, from her 2008 primary loss to Barack Obama. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
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Black Democrats question Sanders' commitment to Obama
by Ken Thomas, Associated Press
February 12, 2016 04:17 PM | 181 views | 0 0 comments | 2 2 recommendations | email to a friend | print

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign enlisted the support of black Democrats on Friday to undermine Bernie Sanders' push to claim a piece of President Barack Obama's legacy, arguing she is the rightful heir to the nation's first black president.

Clinton sought solidarity with Obama at every turn during Thursday's debate in Milwaukee, referring to herself as a "staunch supporter" of his health care law and praising him as a role model on race relations. Clinton ended the debate by criticizing Sanders for saying in an interview with MSNBC that Obama had failed the "presidential leadership test."

By Friday, as Clinton traveled to a black community in South Carolina, her African-American allies in Congress seized upon the Vermont senator's comments during the debate that race relations would "absolutely" be better under a future Sanders administration.

"I think it seemed a bit presumptuous to me to conclude that Bernie Sanders, in the twilight of his career, was going to be able to be the great healer in race relations," said Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., in an interview with CNN.

Rep. Gregory Meeks, D-N.Y., the chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, said in a statement after the debate that Sanders wanted to "undo President Obama's accomplishments" and also pointed to the MSNBC interview, saying Sanders' "disparaging comments towards the president are misplaced, misguided and do not give credit where credit is due."

Sanders senior strategist Tad Devine said after the debate that the Clinton campaign was "desperately trying to place a wedge, a wall, a division between Bernie Sanders and President Obama. There's only one problem: It doesn't exist."

The exchange underscored the degree to which Obama's legacy has become tug-of-war between Clinton and Sanders as the Democratic race winds into Nevada and South Carolina, where minority voters play a pivotal role. The Democratic rivals will be competing for the support of black voters who factor in several "Super Tuesday" contests on March 1, including Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia.

Clinton invoked Obama or his administration 21 times during the debate and used the president, who remains popular with rank-and-file Democrats, as a shield to push back against Sanders' critiques.

When the senator pointed to Clinton's 2002 vote to authorize the Iraq war, Clinton noted that Obama had trusted her judgment enough to name her secretary of state. When Sanders assailed the influence of Wall Street on the nation's political system, she said Obama had received millions from the financial industry but had still signed the Dodd-Frank financial overhaul.

Sanders portrayed himself as an Obama ally in the Senate and the successor to the Obama movement for change. He regularly notes his ability to generate a large voter enthusiasm among young people, one of Obama's main draws in 2008.

At one point during the debate, Sanders told Clinton sharply, "One of us ran against Barack Obama. I was not that candidate."

His campaign dismissed Clinton's contention that Sanders had presented himself as potentially better than Obama on race relations. Sanders was asked if race relations would be better under a Sanders administration than they had been. The senator said, "Absolutely, because what we will do is say, instead of giving tax breaks to billionaires, we are going to create millions of jobs for low-income kids so they're not hanging out on street corners. We're going to make sure that those kids stay in school or are able to get a college education."

"The Clinton campaign takes every single thing that comes out of his mouth, twists it and distorts it and throws it back," Devine said after the debate.

Both candidates sought to appeal to black voters on Friday. Clinton was campaigning in Denmark, South Carolina, and discussing economic opportunities for African-Americans. Sanders was holding a forum on race and economic opportunity at a Minneapolis high school.

Clinton and Sanders were ending the day at the Minnesota DFL's annual Humphrey-Mondale Dinner, putting them before party activists less than three weeks before the state's March 1 presidential caucus. Sanders drew about 20,000 people to two rallies in Minnesota last month and has identified the state as a top target.

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Associated Press writers Catherine Lucey in Minneapolis and Seanna Adcox in Denmark, South Carolina, contributed to this report.

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On Twitter, follow Ken Thomas at https://twitter.com/KThomasDC


Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Police talk inside the Columbus, Ohio, restaurant where they say a man attacked several people with a machete on Thursday, Feb. 11, 2016. They say the man fled the scene and was later fatally shot by police. (AP Photo/Kantele Franko)
Police talk inside the Columbus, Ohio, restaurant where they say a man attacked several people with a machete on Thursday, Feb. 11, 2016. They say the man fled the scene and was later fatally shot by police. (AP Photo/Kantele Franko)
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Nazareth restaurant owner Hany Baransi describes the machete attack last night in his restaurant on Friday, Feb. 11, 2016 in Columbus, Ohio. Quick observations by employees and patrons witnessing a machete attack on diners at a restaurant helped authorities track down the fleeing suspect, who was fatally shot in a confrontation with officers a few miles away, police said. (Doral Chenoweth/The Columbus Dispatch via AP)
Nazareth restaurant owner Hany Baransi describes the machete attack last night in his restaurant on Friday, Feb. 11, 2016 in Columbus, Ohio. Quick observations by employees and patrons witnessing a machete attack on diners at a restaurant helped authorities track down the fleeing suspect, who was fatally shot in a confrontation with officers a few miles away, police said. (Doral Chenoweth/The Columbus Dispatch via AP)
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'No rhyme or reason' for machete attack at Ohio restaurant
by Kantele Franko, Associated Press
February 12, 2016 04:14 PM | 176 views | 0 0 comments | 2 2 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Nazareth restaurant owner Hany Baransi describes the machete attack last night in his restaurant on Friday, Feb. 11, 2016 in Columbus, Ohio. Quick observations by employees and patrons witnessing a machete attack on diners at a restaurant helped authorities track down the fleeing suspect, who was fatally shot in a confrontation with officers a few miles away, police said. (Doral Chenoweth/The Columbus Dispatch via AP)
Nazareth restaurant owner Hany Baransi describes the machete attack last night in his restaurant on Friday, Feb. 11, 2016 in Columbus, Ohio. Quick observations by employees and patrons witnessing a machete attack on diners at a restaurant helped authorities track down the fleeing suspect, who was fatally shot in a confrontation with officers a few miles away, police said. (Doral Chenoweth/The Columbus Dispatch via AP)
slideshow
Police talk inside the Columbus, Ohio, restaurant where they say a man attacked several people with a machete on Thursday, Feb. 11, 2016. They say the man fled the scene and was later fatally shot by police. (AP Photo/Kantele Franko)
Police talk inside the Columbus, Ohio, restaurant where they say a man attacked several people with a machete on Thursday, Feb. 11, 2016. They say the man fled the scene and was later fatally shot by police. (AP Photo/Kantele Franko)
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COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — From the front door, the man with the machete didn't have a straight path to people in the booths at the small suburban restaurant. He stepped by the welcoming greeting on the front glass, past the half-wall entryway divider and the display case of kataifi and other Mediterranean pastries.

Immediately, police said, he started swinging.

"There was no rhyme or reason as to who he was going after," said Sgt. Rich Weiner, a Columbus police spokesman.

By the time it was over, four adults were wounded and the attacker was dead, shot by police in a confrontation a few miles away. No officers were hurt.

Columbus police identified him as 30-year-old Mohamed Barry. They didn't give a hometown for him, and his background isn't immediately clear.

It's unclear what motivated the Thursday evening attack at Nazareth Restaurant and Deli. Columbus police confirmed they're working with federal authorities on the investigation but wouldn't give further details.

Owner Hany Baransi told The Columbus Dispatch he believes his restaurant was targeted because he is Israeli. But FBI Special Agent Rick Smith told the newspaper it's too early in the investigation to jump to any conclusions.

Police credited the employees and patrons with acting quickly and observantly to fend off the man and help authorities catch him. Some threw chairs at the attacker, who'd been there about a half-hour earlier but left after a conversation with an employee, and someone scuffled with the man before he fled in a car, Weiner said. Several people called 911.

"A gentleman came in with a machete and started hacking at people," one male witness said.

A woman said the attacker "just started running through the restaurant." She said she ran to a nearby fast-food restaurant with her two children and hid in a bathroom there.

Minutes later, another caller reported that he'd been hit by a car in the area and that "a long weapon flew up in the air after he hit us."

Police said witnesses at the restaurant had great descriptions of the suspect's vehicle and a bit of video that provided partial license plate information. That helped authorities track down and confront the man near the large Easton Town Center shopping complex. The suspect, who had the machete in one hand and a knife in the other, was fatally shot by police after officers unsuccessfully tried to use a stun gun to stop him and he lunged, Weiner said.

Police said a 54-year-old man hurt at the restaurant remained hospitalized in critical but stable condition Friday. Another man and woman, both 43, were in stable condition. The fourth victim, a 43-year-old man, had been treated and released.

Twelve hours after the attack, the police tape and cruisers were gone outside the closed restaurant, tucked between a cellphone store and a beer shop in a small strip mall. Overturned dining chairs and dark-stained pieces of paper towels and cloth littered the floor.

Next to the door, under the glow of a neon sign advertising gyros, remained the printed sign with the Arabic greeting: "Ahlan Wa Sahlan." Or, roughly, "You are welcome to our place."

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Associated Press writers Andrew Welsh-Huggins and Mitch Stacy in Columbus and Amir Bibawy in New York contributed to this report.


Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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