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Story highlights

Bernie Sanders said Monday that his comment in regard to a racial "blind spot" was really about police oppression in black communities

Sanders took fire after some Clinton supporters asserted that he meant only African-Americans live in poverty

(CNN) —  

Just a day before the Michigan primary, Bernie Sanders was on clean-up duty for comments he made during CNN’s Democratic Debate Sunday in Flint, Michigan.

The Vermont senator was asked by CNN’s Don Lemon, “Senator Sanders, on a personal front, what racial blind spots do you have?”

Sanders said: “When you’re white, you don’t know what it’s like to be living in a ghetto, you don’t know what it’s like to be poor.”

This quickly drew a rebuke from supporters of Hillary Clinton and others on Twitter and beyond. Pundits said the phrasing made it sound like Sanders thought only African-Americans lived in poverty.

On Monday, Sanders sought to clarify.

“What I meant by that is I think many white people are not aware of the kinds of pressures and the kind of police oppression that sometimes takes place within the African-American community,” he told reporters in Detroit. “I don’t want to be lectured about talking about poverty whether it’s white, black, Latino. Nobody in this campaign has talked about it more, nobody in this campaign cycle has proposed more specific ideas on how to address poverty.”

Sanders has struggled throughout the Democratic contest to make inroads with black voters.

Clinton’s strong performance in South Carolina, even among young African-Americans, put an exclamation mark on that concern a little more than a week ago.

CNN’s Elizabeth Landers contributed to this report.