Bill Clinton praised the hard work of mothers who have lost children to gun violence in a speech Sunday in Miami Gardens.
King Carter, a first-grader at Van E. Blanton Elementary, died a week ago in crossfire among teenagers at an apartment in Northwest Miami-Dade.
Clinton told hundreds of Democrats that the mothers who have lost children could choose to essentially shut down.
"Instead they decided to try to start a movement to stop people like 6-year-old King Carter from dying before their time," Clinton said at the Betty T. Ferguson Recreational Complex.
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Clinton spoke on behalf of Hillary Clinton’s campaign a day before early voting starts in Miami-Dade County. He also spoke about other topics of high concern to black voters including police reform, affordable education and voting rights.
Clinton said despite efforts to make it harder for some to vote in Florida in 2012, "you showed up."
Long lines, particularly in Miami-Dade, led Republican Gov. Rick Scott to sign a bill to overhaul elections in 2013. That bill reversed some provisions passed by a GOP Legislature in 2011, which included preventing early voting on the Sunday before Election Day. That Sunday voting is popular with African Americans and dubbed “Souls to the Polls.”
Hillary Clinton heads into Florida’s March 15 primary with a massive lead over rival Bernie Sanders, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released Friday. She leads Sanders 59-33, with her strongest support coming from female and older voters.
Clinton had her largest victory so far in South Carolina where she won about 73.5 percent of the Democratic vote Saturday night — and an even larger estimated share of the black vote.
"We've now gone through four early states and I want to congratulate Sen. Sanders on running a great race," Clinton said in her victory speech Saturday. "And tomorrow, this campaign goes national."
Previously, she won Nevada and narrowly won Iowa while Sanders beat her in New Hampshire.
The next big contest is Super Tuesday when 13 states vote. Both Hillary Clinton and Marco Rubio, one of the five remaining Republican candidates, will await those results in Miami while GOP frontrunner Donald Trump will spend the night in Palm Beach County.
In Miami Gardens, Bill Clinton barely spoke about the GOP presidential field, which he described as men who call each other "liars" and resemble a "reality TV show."
“Hillary Clinton was supposed to be focused on the general election, but here she is heading into Super Tuesday, still having failed to put Sanders away. It’s clear Clinton cannot escape the fundamental flaws of her candidacy or the multiple investigations into her secretive and reckless conduct that will surely haunt her throughout this election,” Republican National Committee spokesman Ali Pardo said in a statement.
Much of the race in South Carolina focused on the battle for the black vote.
In South Florida, the former secretary of state has been endorsed by two well-known black members of Congress: Frederica Wilson of Miami Gardens and Alcee Hastings of Delray Beach. She also has the support of Sabrina Fulton, the mother of Trayvon Martin, a black teenager from Miami Gardens who was killed by a neighborhood watch volunteer in Sanford in 2012.
Miami City Commissioner Keon Hardemon told the crowd in Miami Gardens: “There is no other candidate that knows better than her that young black and brown children in our inner cities shouldn't be hunted like game in the woods of Vermont.”
Sanders, who represents Vermont, tried to compete with his own endorsements of black leaders and ran a radio ad featuring Spike Lee, and actor Danny Glover campaigned for Sanders in South Carolina.
About 28 percent of Florida’s registered Democrats are black, including about one in three Democrats in Miami-Dade County.
Voting is already under way by absentee ballot throughout Florida and early voting starts this week including Monday in Miami-Dade and Saturday in Broward.
There are about 550,000 registered Democrats in Broward, which is the largest number in the state followed by Miami-Dade, which has about 520,000.
Miami Dade College will host a Democratic debate March 9.
Miami Herald/Tampa Bay Times staff writer Steve Bousquet contributed to this report.