Detroit (CNN)The mothers of Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis, two men killed in high-profile shootings, knocked Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders on Tuesday for comments he made on Sunday about "ghettos" and African-American families.
Mothers of slain men knock Sanders for 'ghetto' comment
Asked during the CNN debate in Flint, Michigan, about what racial blind spots he had, Sanders said that many white Americans "don't know what it's like to be living in a ghetto" and "don't know what it's like to be poor."
The comment rankled many and the Clinton campaign seized on it as a way to cast Sanders as out of touch on race.
"Sen. Sanders is wrong to suggest that the concept of the ghetto is inextricably connected to Black America, just as he was wrong to yet again defend his NRA-backed position on guns," Sybrina Fulton, mother of Trayvon Martin, said in a statement on Tuesday.
Both mothers have endorsed and campaigned for Hillary Clinton.
The Sanders campaign didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.
Sanders looked to clean up his comments about ghettos on Monday at a town hall organized by Fox News. The senator said that what he meant to say was "in African-American communities you have people who are living in desperation, often being abused by white police officers. That is a bad thing."
The mothers also faulted Sanders for his position on gun control, an issue that Sanders defended at Sunday's debate.
The National Rifle Association praised Sanders' comments about gun control on Monday, tweeting that the Vermont senator, who is more conservative on guns than most Democrats, was "spot-on" when he defended his position favoring protection of gun manufacturers from legal liability over the use of their products.
Lucia McBath, mother of Jordan Davis, said that "combating gun violence is a top priority for my family and countless families across this nation."
"That's why it's so disappointing to see the NRA defending Sen. Sanders on guns," McBath said. "We need a president who will fight for that -- not someone who toes the NRA line."
Fulton added: "We need a president who understands black families don't all live in ghettos -- and who has a plan to end the racial violence that too often plagues families like mine."
Fulton and McBath have been outspoken surrogates for Clinton and campaigned for the candidate throughout South Carolina. Clinton regularly mentions the mothers -- who have come to be known as the "mothers of the movement" -- in speeches about criminal justice reform and guns.
Both parents first met with Clinton at a private meeting in November, discussing their loss and outlining criminal justice reform and gun control plans.
Martin was the 17-year-old Floridian killed in 2012 by former neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman. Zimmerman's acquittal sparked protests across the country. Davis was a 17-year-old African-American high school student killed in a 2014 shooting that started with a complaint about loud music.