Donald Trump holds a press conference with his VP Choice, Gov. Mike Pence, July 16, 2016. 
Photo by Mark Peterson/Redux for MSNBC

Trump’s minority outreach efforts take a painful step backwards

Updated
Donald Trump managed to win the 2016 presidential election, despite receiving far fewer votes than his opponent, thanks to the strong support of his overwhelmingly white base. By his own admission, the Republican president would like to expand his group of backers, making inroads with communities that have rejected him.

For example, Trump has predicted that when he runs for re-election, he expects to receive 95% of the African-American vote – up from the 8% he received in 2016.

It’s safe to say the president should start lowering his expectations. Two weeks ago, Trump hosted an event in which he referenced Frederick Douglass, while making clear he had no idea who the legendary abolitionist is (or the fact that Douglass is dead). Yesterday, he asked an African-American reporter to help set up a meeting with the Congressional Black Caucus – apparently working from the assumption that all black people know each other.

Trump added:
“I would love to meet with the Black Caucus. I think it’s great, the Congressional Black Caucus. I think it’s great. I actually thought I had a meeting with Congressman [Elijah] Cummings, and he was all excited. And then he said, ‘Well, I can’t move, it might be bad for me politically. I can’t have that meeting.” I was all set to have the meeting. You know, we called him and called him. And he was all set. I spoke to him on the phone, very nice guy.

“He wanted it, but we called, called, called and can’t make a meeting with him. Every day I walk and say I would like to meet with him because I do want to solve the problem. But he probably was told by Schumer or somebody like that, some other lightweight. He was probably told – he was probably told ‘don’t meet with Trump. It’s bad politics.’ And that’s part of the problem in this country.”
Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), who is black, later explained that Trump simply made all of this up.

But let’s not forget that African Americans aren’t the only ones the president is offending.

Earlier this week, Trump was asked about a rise in anti-Semitic incidents. He responded by talking about how impressed he was with his electoral vote totals in the 2016 election.

Yesterday, a reporter from a Jewish publication rose at the press conference and told Trump, “What we are concerned about, and what we haven’t really heard being addressed, is an uptick in anti-Semitism and how the government is planning to take care of it.” Trump said it was “not a fair question,” told the reporter to “sit down,” talked about how he isn’t personally anti-Semitic, and blamed his “opponents” from “the other side” for anti-Semitism.

The Anti-Defamation League issued a statement soon after, describing the president’s answer as, among other things, “mind-boggling.”

This is, for the record, not the first time Trump has gone to unusual lengths to alienate the Jewish community.

Yahoo News’ Garance Franke-Ruta noted how easy it would be for the president to simply say that reports of threats targeting Jews are deeply disturbing and he’s asked the FBI to investigate. But Trump can’t do that – because his instincts won’t let him.

Trump added yesterday, “So here’s the story, folks. No. 1, I am the least anti-Semitic person that you’ve ever seen in your entire life. No. 2, racism, the least racist person.”

Sure you are, Mr. President. Sure you are.

Donald Trump and Racism

Trump's minority outreach efforts take a painful step backwards

Updated