Bernie Sanders bashes Rahm, Hillary Clinton

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U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, D-Vermont, with the Rev. Jesse Jackson on Saturday at Rainbow PUSH during an appearance ahead of Tuesday’s Illinois primary. Getty Images

Bernie Sanders bashed Mayor Rahm Emanuel for a second day in a row on Saturday and then looked for African American votes on the South Side, while a worried Hillary Clinton campaign will be bolstered with a likely Bill Clinton visit on Sunday.

Democratic presidential rivals Clinton and Sanders are hopscotching among Illinois, Ohio, Missouri and North Carolina in the final days before the Tuesday vote, with less personal emphasis this weekend on Florida.

“I would just tell you, after Michigan, the Hillary Clinton campaign cannot take any state for granted, including her home state of Illinois, where she was born,” said Sen. Dick Durbin D-Illinois, a Clinton ally. “They should take it very seriously.”

In the final days of the primary contest, Clinton is paying more attention to Illinois. After an appearance last week in Vernon Hills, she’s planning to campaign Monday in Springfield and at Plumbers Hall, 1340 W. Washington.

There’s fierce competition between the Sanders and Clinton campaigns for African-American voters in Illinois. During a stop Saturday at Rainbow PUSH headquarters on the South Side, Sanders pushed for a big African-American voter turnout.

“If there is a large voter turnout here in Illinois, I believe we are going to win Illinois,” Sanders said earlier Saturday at a news conference at the Hyatt Regency on Wacker Drive, seeming energized following his surprise Michigan win last week.

Sanders was flanked by Cook County Board Member Jesus “Chuy” Garcia and Troy LaRaviere, a Chicago public school principal and staunch Emanuel critic who is featured in Sanders’ paid advertising.

The Sanders/Garcia alliance grew out of Sanders endorsement last year of Garcia’s failed bid to deny Emanuel a second term as mayor. Garcia is now a top Sanders surrogate who is being heavily used to woo Hispanic votes.

As he did Friday night at a stop in Summit, Sanders again slammed Emanuel, saying the mayor’s record on schools, financing deals and fund-raising is a disaster.

Emanuel owes his political career to Bill Clinton. He worked in his 1992 campaign and White House and backed Hillary Clinton early on. Asked during an appearance at Chicago’s St. Patrick’s Day parade Saturday about Sanders’ strategy of using him to beat up on Clinton, Emanuel mostly shrugged it off and pointed to his work to reduce barriers for students to attend the Chicago City Colleges.

Will throwing spears at Emanuel earn Sanders votes?

“I’m not sure that it will,” said Durbin. “The presidency itself is such a big issue. And we have two people who have clearly defined where they stand. I think that is what will drive the choices in Illinois.”

At PUSH, Sanders was onstage with the organization’s founder, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, at the group’s annual pre-election event, featuring contenders on the Tuesday ballot. Sanders backed Jackson when he ran for president in 1988.

Clinton was invited, too, but was stumping Saturday in Missouri and Ohio.

Jackson hasn’t endorsed a presidential candidate. He has close ties to both Sanders and Clinton.

He said Saturday he’s supporting both candidates.

“I respect both of them, and I’m not taking sides,” Jackson said, adding that he’ll stump for Clinton on Monday during a visit to Chicago. “My focus is on getting out the vote and talking about the real issues.”

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