Bernie Sanders sits down for breakfast with the Rev Al Sharpton at Sylvia's Restaurant in Harlem.

The race for the US Democratic presidential nomination turned sharply into a battle for Hispanic and African American voters, who are expected to play a decisive role in a long list of upcoming contests in Southern and Western states.

Although former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton enjoys a dramatic advantage over Senator Bernie Sanders among minorities, his resounding victory in the New Hampshire primary gives him a shot of momentum. Making clear how crucial minority support will be, Sanders's first stop was in Harlem, where he met civil rights activist the Rev Al Sharpton and Benjamin Jealous, a former head of the NAACP.

"If the elections were held today in both those states, we would lose," Sanders said, referring to Nevada and South Carolina. "But I think we have momentum, I think we have a shot to win, and if we don't win, we'll do a lot better than people think we will."


Clinton's campaign signalled that the spectacular loss will not throw her off a careful course set months ago that relies in part on strong support among minorities. With a blast of announcements about endorsements, travel plans and more, the Clinton campaign sought to turn to subjects -- gun control, criminal justice, the water crisis in Flint, Michigan -- that speak to African American and blue-collar voters in the states that vote next. "There is no change to our core argument, our plan, and you saw that in what we are saying as we look to the states that vote in March," Clinton press secretary Brian Fallon said.

The Sanders campaign predicted that his message of economic fairness will resonate regardless of race.

Clinton and Sanders meet for another Democratic debate today in Milwaukee. Clinton is expected to strike a more aspirational, optimistic tone that is a tacit acknowledgment that simply knocking down Sanders's ideas as unrealistic was not enough. A chief complaint among Clinton backers appalled by her 22-point loss in a state with long and fond ties to the Clintons is that she isn't getting through to voters.