President Trump on Tuesday defended his slogan “Make America Great Again” when asked by a black undecided voter at an ABC News town hall event if the term wasn’t “tone deaf.”
Trump highlighted his black supporters and touted statistics that reflect economic improvement for black Americans before the coronavirus pandemic caused a spike in joblessness in March.
Addressing specifically when things were “great” for black people, Trump said: “If you go back and you want to look over many years, you could just go back six or seven months from now, that was the best single moment in the history of the African-American people in this country.”
The president’s questioner, Pastor Carl Day of Philadelphia, who leads the Culture Changing Christians nonprofit, was identified as someone who voted for Green Party candidate Jill Stein in 2016.
Day bluntly presented his inquiry to Trump.
“When has America been great for African Americans in the ghetto of America? Are you aware of how tone deaf that comes off to the African American community?” Day said.
“Well, I can say this, we have tremendous African-American support. You’ve probably seen it in the polls. We’re doing extremely well with African-American, Hispanic-American at levels that you’ve rarely seen a Republican have,” Trump said.
“You look just prior to this horrible situation coming in from China, when the virus came in, that was the — probably the highest point, home ownership for the black community, home ownership, lower crime, the best jobs they’ve ever had, highest income, the best employment numbers they’ve ever had.”
Trump’s questioner persisted, saying he hadn’t seen improvement for black people under many administrations.
“We have not been seeing a change, quite frankly under your administration, under the Obama administration, under the Bush, under the Clinton, the very same thing happening, the very same system, the cycles continue to ensue,” Day said.
Day said Trump hadn’t acknowledge there was a “race problem” in America.
“Well, I hope there’s not a race problem,” Trump told the questioner. “I have great respect for all races, for everybody. This country is great because of it.”
“But when you go back six months and you take a look at what was happening, you can’t even compare that with past administrations,” Trump said. “When you look at income levels — and a lot of things, because of the job situation, where they had the lowest income — the best unemployment numbers they’ve ever had, the black community by far. And that was solving a lot of problems. And you know what else? It was bringing people together.”
During the extended dialogue, the questioner noted that there’s income inequality impacting black people and “an $8 an hour job does not mean that they can necessarily afford to live where they have to live.”
Trump said that “the income inequality — which, I agree with you, is a problem, I always agreed with that. But if you look under President Obama and Biden the income inequality was phenomenal. It was — it was record setting.”
Trump said if not for COVID-19, there would be less inequality.
“I think, income inequality would be different. It was really getting there. We were really driving it down.”