On July 20, Donald Trump took the lead in the Real Clear Politics average of national polling in the Republican presidential race. Donald Trump still leads the field, but his position has diminished to a great extent. Trump likes to talk about outlying polls that show him doing well with Hispanic and African-American voters, but those results should be questioned.
A statement issued by Donald Trump’s campaign that he would be supported and endorsed on Monday by a great deal of African-American evangelicals attracted controversy and started a war of words on social media between some of the clergy members and critics, who noted that the billionaire businessman had only days ago defended the beating of an African-American protester at a campaign rally. As a result, the Trump campaign canceled a press conference that had been set up to tout the group’s support.
Many of the Pastors have said that they never planned to endorse Trump, only to attend a meeting for a discussion with the candidate regarding who is leading the field for the Republican presidential nomination. Others, however, have said that now they won’t even attend the meeting in New York. Many pastors have made it clear that it was only an invitation to sit down with Trump to talk politics.
“Get him the hell out of here!” Trump shouted from the stage as security guards escorted the man from the arena. When the incident was mentioned the next day during an interview on Fox News Sunday, Trump said, “Maybe he should have been roughed up, because it was absolutely disgusting what he was doing.” Later that day, he retweeted a graphic that incorrectly showed that black people are responsible for most killings of white people.
This incident and Trump’s response to it left some disbelief that many African-American religious leaders would endorse him.
“Mr. Trump routinely uses overtly divisive and racist language on the campaign trail,” read an open letter on Ebony.com, signed by more than 130 clergy members, religious scholars, and activists. “We are concerned that your choice to meet with Mr. Trump, particularly in such a visible way, will not only de-radicalize the Black prophetic political tradition, but will also give Trump the appearance of legitimacy among those who follow your leadership and respect your position as clergy.”
Earlier, Trump’s campaign had started talking about the gathering as an endorsement event, and then, in an unprecedented turn of events, scaled back and started describing the get-together as a “private meeting.”
“It was all just a ‘misunderstanding,’” according to Trump’s campaign. Nobody knows who is telling the truth. However, this is an event that is highly noteworthy. It speaks a great deal to the limits of old-fashioned plots to ascertain African-American votes, along with the new shape and texture of black political engagement. And it definitely highlights the limited accuracy of Trump’s many, many self-assigned superlatives.