Boxing promoter Don King introduced Republican nominee Donald Trump at the New Spirit Revival Center, a black church in Cleveland, Ohio, on Tuesday. News of this historic step by a Republican nominee to reach out to the black community was distracted, however, by reports of King’s past and his slip of the tongue during the introduction.
When speaking about black people attempting to emulate whites, King remarked that society would always brand people by the color of their skin. In his remarks, he let the n-word slip.
I told Michael Jackson, I said, “If you’re poor, you’re a poor negro.” I would use the N-word. “But if you’re rich, you are a rich negro. If you are intelligent, intellectual, you’re an intellectual negro. If you are a dancing and sliding and gliding n****r, I mean negro. You’re a dancing and sliding and gliding negro. So dare not alienate because you cannot assimilate. So you know you’re going to be a negro till you die.”
MSNBC’s chief legal correspondent, Ari Melber, wasted no time in attacking King for this remark, making time to add, “King also a controversial surrogate b/c he was convicted of murder.”
Trump campaigning w/ Don King, who just used the n-word at their event.
King also a controversial surrogate b/c he was convicted of murder.
— Ari Melber (@AriMelber) September 21, 2016
Phillip Morris, a writer for Cleveland’s Plain Dealer, reported last week that the Cleveland City Council is considering legislation to rename a stretch of Cedar Avenue after Don King. It was on that very street, in 1966, he stomped to death a man named Sam Garrett, an employee who owed him $600. King was convicted of non-negligent manslaughter, for which he served under four years in prison. Ohio Governor Jim Rhodes pardoned him for the crime in 1983, in response to letters from Jesse Jackson, Coretta Scott King, and other black leaders.
Other liberals also attacked King for his past. The Washington Post’s Jonathan Capehart attacked Trump, asking a rhetorical question: “Donald Trump condemned Don King’s use of the N-word. Right? Right? #illwait.”
Donald Trump condemned Don King's use of the N-word. Right? Right? #illwait
— Jonathan Capehart (@CapehartJ) September 21, 2016
– also reported that Trump smiled when King used the word.
— Emily C. Singer (@CahnEmily) September 21, 2016
This was a lose-lose situation for Trump, and it probably was smart of him to ignore the usage. In American culture, black people are permitted to say the word (how many rap songs feature it?), and Trump was rightly thankful for King’s support.
Jesse Lehrich, foreign policy spokesperson for Hillary Clinton, contrasted the Republican and Democrat nominees. “[T]oday Hillary is giving a speech about increasing opportunity for disabled Americans & Trump is campaigning with convicted murderer Don King,” Lehrich tweeted.
today Hillary is giving a speech about increasing opportunity for disabled Americans & Trump is campaigning with convicted murderer Don King
— Jesse Lehrich (@JesseLehrich) September 21, 2016
Next Page: Why Lehrich is wrong, and why Trump’s outreach to the black community is impressive.
Not only is King not a convicted murderer, but liberals did not unleash a storm against him when he endorsed Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012, nor when he attended a fundraiser with Hillary Clinton and Nevada Senator Harry Reid in 2014.
— Dan Merica (@merica) September 21, 2016
King’s slip-up was embarrassing, but that it should not distract us from the real story here — Trump is actively courting black votes. Even more, he mentioned the tragic death of Terence Crutcher, a case championed by Black Lives Matter as a clear case of police racism. Trump said Crutcher “did everything he’s supposed to do. And he looked like a really good man.”
— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) September 21, 2016
Of the officer who shot Crutcher, the Republican nominee asked, “Did she get scared? Was she choking? What happened? But maybe people like that, people that choke, they can’t be doing what they’re doing.”
While Trump praised the police and law enforcement as “great people,” his remarks suggest a willingness to consider serious problems among them and to condemn the misuse of deadly force. In Crutcher’s case at least, he is willing not just to support law and order, but to attack the police who abuse their power.
Trump’s remarks weren’t exactly eloquent, but they did showcase his willingness to stand up for black people who were wrongfully killed by police. Not every case championed by Black Lives Matter is indeed just a miscarriage of justice, and the full investigations into Crutcher’s death are still ongoing.
It remains to be seen exactly how successful Trump’s outreach to the black community will be. He is unlikely to gain anything more than 20 percent in November, but even securing just over 10 percent of the black vote would be a major electoral victory after McCain and Romney scored 4 percent and 5 percent of the black vote, respectively. Republicans historically have taken between 9 and 11 percent of the black vote, and if Trump takes 10 percent, according to one model, Florida flips to the GOP, and Virginia and Ohio become within striking distance.
And, dare I say it, King’s use of the N-word might attract even more attention to the fact that this major black figure is endorsing Trump. Ironically, this slip-up might help the Republican nominee more than it hurts him.
See the video of King’s N-word slip on the next page.
Here is the full video of the entire event.