Donald Trump continues to insist boxing promoter Don King has endorsed his presidential campaign, though King denied his official support Friday.
Trump announced Friday on Twitter that King had endorsed his campaign, tweeting, ”The great boxing promoter, Don King, just endorsed me. Nice!”
After Trump’s initial tweet, King said in an interview with the New York Daily News at Muhammad Ali’s funeral that he was not officially backing the GOP’s presumptive nominee.
“I’m endorsing the people. I’m not a Republican or a Democrat, I’m a Republicrat, and I go with the will of the people. The only reason Trump exists is because of the will of the people,” King said.
That’s not to say King isn’t a fan of Trump. “I like Mr. Trump,” said King told the Daily News. “He’s an idol of America.”
Even after King’s comments, Trump still claimed King, who helped publicize Ali among other famous boxers, endorsed him. On Saturday morning, the candidate tweeted, “Don King, and so many other African Americans who know me well and endorsed me, would not have done so if they thought I was a racist!”
Trump mentioned King’s apparent endorsement again Saturday afternoon during a rally in Tampa, Florida.
“I am the least racist person you have ever met. Believe me, I am the least racist person,” Trump told the crowd. ”I get a call yesterday, as an example — street-smart guy, smart guy, but very street smart — Don King, the boxing promoter. And Don King said, ‘Donald, I am endorsing you for president.’ You think Don King is going to endorse a racist?”
Trump’s defensive remarks stem from backlash over his recent comments on the judge presiding over the lawsuit against Trump University. Trump has said Judge Gonzalo Curiel may be unable to conduct a fair trial due to his “Mexican heritage,” particularly because Trump has called for a wall to be built along the United States’ border with Mexico. GOP members have called Trump’s comments racist, including House Speaker Paul Ryan, who disavowed Trump’s comments, adding, “Claiming a person can’t do their job because of their race is sort of like the textbook definition of a racist comment.”
King defended Trump in the Daily News interview Friday amid the recent racist accusations and said, “That’s shaded the way the media wants to shade it.”