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Bernie Sanders' Decisive Victory In New Hampshire Shakes Up Democratic Race

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

And joining us now with more on the state of the Democratic race is NPR's Mara Liasson. Welcome back, Mara.

MARA LIASSON, BYLINE: Good to be here.

SHAPIRO: Lots of endorsements today for both Clinton and Sanders. Give us the highlights.

LIASSON: Well, this really was the battle of the dueling African-American endorsements. You just heard that Sanders got the endorsement of an African-American New York state senator. The campaign - his campaign had suggested he was going to New York to meet with Al Sharpton as if he was about to get his endorsement, but Sanders was there, actually, to do an interview for Sharpton's television show. Sharpton did not endorse, but Sanders has gotten some endorsements. He's been endorsed by Ben Jealous, the former director of the NAACP, by actor-activist Harry Belafonte, and writer Ta-Nehisi Coates said he would vote for Sanders.

Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, has many members of the Congressional Black Caucus supporting her. Today, she got the State House minority leader in South Carolina. The biggest get in South Carolina would be Jim Clyburn - Congressman Clyburn. He says he won't endorse this week. And then, of course, the biggest of all, Barack Obama, has not ruled out an endorsement in the Democratic primary. Hillary Clinton did get an indirect assist from him today when he said in a speech in Illinois, just because I'm trying to find compromise doesn't make me less of a progressive; it just means I want to get stuff done - sounds like Clinton.

SHAPIRO: So a lot of focus on black endorsements, black voters. The conventional wisdom is that Clinton has a lock on the African-American vote. Is that true?

LIASSON: Well, conventional wisdom has been all wrong all along this year, so who knows? But the Clinton campaign - even the Clinton campaign says there are no firewalls, no demographic or geographic firewalls. The Sanders campaign insists that the reason he polls so poorly right now with African-Americans is because they don't know him.

Tomorrow on MORNING EDITION, our colleague Sam Sanders - no relation - has a great piece about young African-Americans who are supportive of Sanders. Hillary Clinton has a young-people problem in general, not just African-Americans, and she is in danger of having it becoming deeply un-cool to be for her.

SHAPIRO: The next votes won't be cast in the Democratic contest until the Nevada caucuses February 20, followed by South Carolina the 27. What are you watching for between here and there?

LIASSON: I'm watching for the vetting of Bernie Sanders because up until now, he has been held to a different standard maybe because he wasn't seen as a potential nominee or he was viewed as a protest candidate. But now that there's a real possibility he could get the nomination, his proposals and record are going to be subjected to the same scrutiny as hers. And I expect in the Democratic debate tomorrow night he might be asked about his health care proposal. Under his plan for free, no-co-pay, no-deductable health care, the question is, can someone get as much health care as they want for free? Can my 90-year-old mom get a hip replaced, or does somebody make that decision?

I also expect he'll be asked about why he attended DSCC fundraisers with investment bankers and Wall Street interests and took money that was raised from them and from corporate lobbyists. And I'm also looking to see both candidates evolve. Up until now, Sanders has been all message. Hillary Clinton has been all resume. She has to develop a more aspiration, yes - less purely pragmatic message. And he's going to have to explain the details of his proposals.

SHAPIRO: That's NPR's national political correspondent Mara Liasson. Thanks, Mara.

LIASSON: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.