Political News

Donald Trump steps deeper into US race debate

Posted 10:35 p.m. Thursday

— Stepping deeper into America's race debate, Donald Trump on Thursday warned African-American protesters that their outrage was creating suffering in their own community, as he worked to walk a line between his law-and-order toughness and new minority outreach.

"The rioting in our streets is a threat to all peaceful citizens and it must be ended and ended now," Trump, the Republican nominee for president, declared at a rally in suburban Philadelphia on Thursday night.

"The main victims of these violent demonstrations," he added, "are law-abiding African-Americans who live in these communities and only want to raise their children in safety and peace."

The comments came hours after a white Oklahoma police officer was charged with manslaughter Thursday in the fatal shooting of an unarmed black man whose vehicle had broken down in the middle of the street. That and another police shooting of a black man in North Carolina have sparked fierce protests that continued to simmer Thursday night.

Trump, eager to blunt criticism that his campaign inspires racism in the midst of what he called "a national crisis," has sought to express empathy in recent days. But his words could rankle some in the African-American community, underscoring the challenges he faces.

Earlier in the day, Trump seemed to suggest that protesters outraged by the police shootings of black men were under the influence of drugs.

"I will stop the drugs from flowing into our country and poisoning our youth and many other people," Trump declared at an energy conference in Pittsburgh. He added, "And if you're not aware, drugs are a very, very big factor in what you're watching on television at night."

Trump's campaign rejected the interpretation that he was talking about the protests seen on cable news the last few nights.

"It is clear what he said, and what he meant. It's obvious that he was referring to the recent increase in drug-related deaths and subsequent news reports, thus making it a hot-button issue," said campaign rapid response director Steven Cheung.

Trump also raised eyebrows Wednesday when he seemed to call for the national expansion of "stop-and-frisk," a police tactic that has been condemned as racial profiling. On Thursday, Trump clarified that he had been referring only to murder-plagued Chicago.

Democrat Hillary Clinton did not address escalating racial tensions Thursday as she prepared for her first debate-stage meeting with Trump. She dinged her opponent, albeit in a humorous way, in an interview released Thursday on comic Zach Galifianakis' web program, "Between Two Ferns."

The comedian asked her what Trump might wear to Monday's debate.

"I assume he'll wear that red power tie," Clinton said. Galifianakis responded, "Or maybe like a white power tie."

"That's even more appropriate," Clinton said.

At his evening rally, Trump hit back, accusing Clinton of supporting — "with a nod" — "the narrative of cops as a racist force in our society."

"Those peddling the narrative ... share directly in the responsibility for the unrest that is afflicting our country and hurting those who have really the very least," he said.

Both candidates are working to navigate the politics of race with Election Day less than seven weeks away and early voting about to begin in some states.

Trump, in particular, has struggled to balance a message that appeals to his white, working-class base with one that improves his standing with minorities and educated whites who may worry about racial undertones in his candidacy. He was slow to disavow former KKK leader David Duke earlier in the year and has repeatedly promoted tweets by white supremacists during his White House bid. The Republican nominee admitted for the first time publicly last week that President Barack Obama was born in the United States.

On Thursday, Trump tried at times to project a softer message, calling for a nation united in "the spirit of togetherness."

"The job of a leader is to stand in someone else's shoes and see things from their perspective. You have to be able to do that," he said.

At the same time, Mahoning County, Ohio, chair Kathy Miller, a campaign volunteer, came under fire after telling the Guardian newspaper, "I don't think there was any racism until Obama got elected." The Trump campaign accepted her resignation after what a spokesman called "inappropriate" comments.

In North Carolina, Republican Rep. Robert Pittenger, whose district includes parts of Charlotte where protests have turned violent, said they stemmed from protesters who "hate white people because white people are successful and they're not." Pittenger later apologized.

Clinton has made curbing gun violence and police brutality central to her candidacy. She said Wednesday that the shootings in Oklahoma and North Carolina added two more names "to a long list of African-Americans killed by police officers. It's unbearable and it needs to become intolerable."


Peoples reported from Washington. AP writers Jason Keyser in Chicago and Julie Carr Smyth in Columbus, Ohio, contributed to this report.


Follow Colvin on Twitter at https://twitter.com/colvinj and Peoples on https://twitter.com/sppeoples


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  • Sam Nada Sep 23, 10:37 a.m.
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    View quoted thread

    The accusation of racism against Trump is "just plain false"?

    He's been officially endorsed by white supremacist groups. You actually believe they've been fooled?


    Paul Ryan said Trump's remarks were "the textbook definition of racist comments".

    Read more at http://www.wral.com/share/page/1896337/?id=16036627#w15rRIRTA3bdHVVX.99

    Read this and tell us with a straight face the accusations of racism against him are "just plain false".


  • Pete Muller Sep 23, 8:18 a.m.
    user avatar

    It is high time that Trump experiences the level of scrutiny that has been applied to Hillary Clinton in this campaign. The press is ways too soft on the many issues and flaws that are surrounding the Donald.

  • Bryan Jeffries Sep 23, 7:45 a.m.
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    I'm still not buying tough talk from an obese elderly man who never worked hard a day in his life.

    PS (I'm not a Clinton supporter either)

  • Paul Donovan Sep 23, 7:40 a.m.
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    I watched all those speeches that Trump gave. The author of this piece should be fired. They have taken separate parts of his speech and twisted the meanings of his words to fit their desire to get Hillary elected. Such bias and dishonesty. The accusation of racism against him is just plain false. He has led a very public life. Don't you think you would have heard he was racist long ago if it was true ? The Democrats have no new ideas, they have a very bad candidate and all they can do is try to disparage whoever it is that is running against them.

  • Paul Stroud Sep 23, 5:17 a.m.
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    You know for a man that "tells it like it is" and "speaks the truth", he sure issues a LOT of clarifications.

  • Marilyn Loftin Sep 23, 4:25 a.m.
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    A black officer killed Mr. Scott, because he wouldn't comply with orders. A black protester killed another black protester just because, and you blame Donald Trump. Look at your self in the mirror.

  • David McCabe Sep 22, 11:31 p.m.
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    I should have double-checked the stats Terry provided. Terry listed the total number of murders in that given year, not the per 100K number (5.5 per 100K in 2014). I am delighted that Charlotte is not on the level of St Louis or Detroit and apologize for not immediately recognizing that the rate Terry listed was astronomically high.

  • David McCabe Sep 22, 11:20 p.m.
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    View quoted thread

    On it's face that stat seems terrific but when you examine the entire country and find that violent crime has fallen somewhere between 49-51% over the past two decades and violent crime victimization has fallen around 75% in the same time period you can see that while crime, especially violent crime, has been going down for decades there are places that lag far behind the rest of the nation as a whole. While it is great that there has been an overall reduction, 47 murders per 100K is still an unacceptably high murder rate and puts Charlotte in the same league as places like St Louis (50 per 100K) and Detroit (44 per 100K) (2014 Stats). Not exactly an achievement to pop champagne bottles and exchange celebratory handshakes over...

  • Byrd Ferguson Sep 22, 6:08 p.m.
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    People should be protesting those felons who will not put guns down when the police ask them to. Not the LEOs who are putting their lives on the line to protect us from these felons. These people have got it backwards...

  • Terry Lightfoot Sep 22, 6:04 p.m.
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    View quoted thread

    Mr Jones - really ridiculous logic, not backed by any facts