Donald Trump’s latest attempt to win over African-American voters went off track Wednesday when the pastor of a historically black church in Flint, Michigan, cut him off mid-stump speech, reminding him that “he had not been invited there to deliver a political speech,” reported Politico.
The GOP nominee was attempting to fit Flint’s water problem into his talking points, but it quickly backfired. Facing 50 or so people inside Bethel United Methodist Church, Trump started his speech saying: “Hillary Clinton failed on the economy, just like she has failed on foreign policy. Everything she touched didn’t work out, nothing.” That’s when Rev. Faith Green-Timmons, an African-American pastor, stepped in to stop him.
“Mr. Trump, I invited you here to thank us for what we’ve done in Flint,” Rev. Faith Green Timmons said as she approached Trump. “Not to give a political speech.”
A stunned Trump quickly moved to smooth things over. “OK, that’s good. I’m going to go back onto Flint,” he said.
Flint’s water crisis drew attention and visits from Clinton and Bernie Sanders during the Democratic primary but not from Republicans until Wednesday. But Trump’s short-but-messy visit is the latest evidence of the difficulties he faces in making headway with African-American voters.
As Trump was wrapping up, a few people seated in the pews had questions.
“You’ve discriminated against black tenants,” one said, seeming to reference a New York Times report detailing how Trump and his father frequently denied African-Americans applying to buy or rent in their buildings.
“No, I never,” Trump said, as he was leaving.
According to Politico, 100 more people lined the sidewalk across the street and held Clinton and Obama signs.
Reverend Green-Timmons said in a statement that she welcomed Trump because her church welcomes all people.
“Trump’s presence at Bethel Methodist in no way represents an endorsement of his candidacy,” she said before reminding the nation about “the crisis her city is coping with.”
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