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Politics

Zimmerman Decision Starts to Impact Hillary Clinton, 2016 Democratic Field

July 16, 2013 - 6:00pm

While Democrats are upset about the recent jury decision that found George Zimmerman not guilty, the field of candidates considering running for the presidential nomination in 2016 have been quiet on the issue.

A Rasmussen Reports poll released on Wednesday finds 48 percent of American adults agree with the decision while 34 percent disagree. The poll shows that Democrats sharply disagree with the decision. While 76 percent of Republicans agree with the decision, 59 percent of Democrats disagree with it and only 25 percent of Democrats agree with it.

Democratic officeholders across the nation have weighed in on the decision, expressing their disagreement with it. For example, U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown, D-Fla., offered her thoughts in a statement Monday.

I am heartbroken and angered by the verdict in this decision, Brown said. My prayers go out to the Martin family in their grief as they are faced to live with a justice system that has failed them, a system that did not exact even minimal punishment on the man who killed their 17-year-old son.

This is a blatant example of our justice system being entirely broken, Brown added. Along with the NAACP and other civil rights groups, I pledge to fight for the removal of Stand Your Ground laws here in Florida and across the nation, and do everything within my power as a member of Congress to put an end to racial profiling. Last year, an innocent young man was killed in Sanford, Fla., while returning from a 7-11 grocery store, and the perpetrator was not even convicted of a crime ... clearly, there is something very wrong with a system of justice that legally sanctions such a heinous act.

But there has been one group of Democrats who have generally been silent on the issue -- those who are angling for their partys presidential nomination in 2016. There have been some exceptions but, for the most part, the possible White House hopefuls have remained silent.

On Tuesday night, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the overwhelming favorite for the Democratic nomination if she enters the race, said Martins family was in her prayers but did not offer her take on the decision. Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York, who could run if Clinton stays out, had harsh words for the verdict but added the legal process must be respected. Gov. Deval Patrick of Massachuetts criticized the decision but, on Tuesday, announced he had no interest in running for the Democratic nomination. The rest of the possible hopefuls -- including the likes of Vice President Joe Biden, U.S. Sen. ElizabethWarren, D-Mass, Gov. Martin OMalley of Maryland and others -- said even less.

They might not be able to stay on the sidelines much longer. Al Sharpton has announced that he plans to lead protests, including a march on Washington, demanding justice. While he took only 2 percent of the vote in the Democratic presidential primaries in 2004, Sharpton remains something of a power broker in the party and continues to influence public debate from his various media perches, including his show on MSNBC. With Sharpton and other prominent Democratic leaders continuing to focus on the aftermath of the Zimmerman decision, Democratic presidential hopefuls can expect to feel more pressure on the issue in the coming days.

Reach Kevin Derby at kderby@sunshinestatenews.com or at 904-521-3722.

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