Trump to black candidate, ‘Did you see what I’m doing for A$AP Rocky?’

Updated

Gov.-elect Andy Beshear (D) gave up his job as Kentucky attorney general in order to run for governor, and this week, voters in the Bluegrass State chose his successor. The results weren’t close: Republican Daniel Cameron won by 15 points.

For the GOP, it was a key victory for reasons that extend beyond just flipping control of the state AG’s office. As the Washington Post reported today, Cameron, a former University of Louisville football player, served as general counsel to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), and he’s reportedly “being groomed to succeed McConnell in the Senate when he retires.”

The same article noted what happened when Cameron was brought to the White House for a meeting with Donald Trump.

A senior White House official said Trump viewed Cameron as “out of central casting.”

“Did you see what I’m doing for A$AP Rocky?” Trump asked Cameron at one point during the July Oval Office meeting, according to those familiar with the encounter.

On the one hand, I don’t imagine anyone will find this especially surprising. On the other hand, it’s hard to overstate how cringe-worthy this is.

Trump welcomes an African-American man to the Oval Office, and it leads the president to ask his guest if he’s familiar with his efforts to help a black rapper accused of beating a man during a street fight in Sweden?

It reinforces concerns that the president continues to make all kinds of misguided assumptions about race. It’s hard not to wonder, for example, whether Trump would have asked, “Did you see what I’m doing for A$AP Rocky?” to a white Republican running for state attorney general.

The president also seems eager to engage in some kind of box-checking exercise, as if people of color should appreciate him more – and be willing to overlook his many racist incidents – if he takes diplomatic steps to free a black entertainer from the Swedish criminal justice system.

Over the summer, Eugene Scott had a good piece along these lines, explaining, “Trump, a celebrity before he was a politician, appears to give more credence to the words of black musicians than he does black people working in policy and advocacy.”

When the Republican brings up A$AP Rocky on the campaign trail next year, trying to appear cool and connected to minority communities, keep this in mind.