Presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump has officially declined an invitation to speak before the summer meeting of the NAACP next week.
Speaking on CNN Tuesday afternoon, NAACP President Cornell William Brooks told Wolf Blitzer Trump’s decision was due to a scheduling conflict with a scheduling conflict with the Republican National Convention scheduled for the same time.
— The Situation Room (@CNNSitRoom) July 12, 2016
“Mr. Trump has declined our invitation, so we will hear from Sec. Clinton… Namely, the explanation given was that (the Republicans) are holding their convention at the same time. We are, of course, in Cincinnati, they are in Cleveland. We were hoping he would make the short trip from Cleveland to Cincinnati.
But, I will simply say this. The NAACP represents millions of Americans. We represent an occasion for those running for president to speak to the nation’s most critical issues at a critical hour in this country. You can’t run for president and not talk about police misconduct and police brutality. You can’t run and not talk about the nation’s civil rights agenda.
So, this is an important moment and our convention really will be a opportunity for anyone running for president to provide a window not only into their policies but into their heart and character as a candidate.”
If Trump had figured out a way to fly down to Cincinnati for the NAACP conference (if only he had access to a plane or helicopter) what would his message look like? Last night on Fox News, we got a bit of a glimpse.
While President Obama was lying his way through a divisive political rally memorial service for five fallen police officers in Dallas, Trump appeared on The O’Reilly Factor to discuss the growing racial divide in America. Asked by host Bill O’Reilly if he understands “the African-American experience.”
Trump’s response was actually, pretty circumspect:
“Well, I’d like to say yes but you really can’t unless you’re African-American. Because I do understand what goes on in life, and I do understand that the economics of our country are not the same. that people are making much less in wages than they were 18 years ago. That our jobs are leaving the country… that our educational system stinks, it’s absolutely horrible.”
O’Reilly asked what his plan would be to lessen racial tension in America should he become president.
“Well, one thing is spirit,” Trump said. “I mean, we don’t have spirit — the country doesn’t have any spirit, Bill … We need a cheerleader, not a divider. We have a divider. We need a cheerleader.”
He also echoed some of his standard campaign rhetoric but conformed it to the racial divide by saying there were “still some black Americans who believe that the system is biased against them… I’ve been saying, even against me, the system is rigged. What I’m saying is, they’re not necessarily wrong,” Trump explained. “I can relate it, really, very much to myself.”
No word on whether the NAACP would have accepted Omarosa in Trump’s place.
So, did he make the right call? Lord knows the NAACP audience is less reflective of African-Americans in general and more representative of left-wing liberal African-Americans. So Trump’s message would have been met with partisan hostility. But, if we conservatives believe we have the best ideas, shouldn’t we be eager to bring those ideas to everyone in America?