Trump is no stranger to trying to have things both ways, especially when it comes to trying to hold down Democratic margins with the black vote while maintaining his appeal to his most loyal white supporters. In October 2016, Trump insisted that the African American “Central Park 5” were guilty of rape and assault, even though their convictions in the racially charged 1989 case had been vacated thanks to the DNA evidence. Yet that didn’t stop the Trump campaign from, in the same month, targeting African American voters with social media posts headlined “Hillary Thinks African Americans are Super Predators.”
But any flirtation with political correctness is too incongruous with Trump’s congenital political incorrectness to be sustained. Just one week after Biden’s “you ain’t black” crack, America was shaken by yet another video of a white police officer killing an African American, and Trump’s politically incorrect nature could not be restrained. While he has said the family of George Floyd is “entitled to justice,” he also blurted out on Twitter, “When the looting starts, the shooting starts,” a phrase coined by a Miami police chief in 1967 justifying a violent crackdown in black neighborhoods. (Trump soon tried to dial back the jarring comment, saying, “I don’t want this to happen.”)
Even before the video of Floyd’s death surfaced, Trump had made a string of controversial comments that sidelined coverage of Biden’s gaffe—about wearing masks, playing golf, voting by mail, and the long debunked conspiracy theory that Joe Scarborough, as a congressman, murdered his intern.