Jack Kingston’s tense defense of Donald Trump’s outreach to black voters

Donald Trump is polling at 5 percent among black voters in Georgia and as low as 2 percent nationally. Against that backdrop, former Georgia Rep. Jack Kingston was asked on CNN about the Republican nominee’s “what the hell do you have to lose” pitch to minority voters.

The Savannah Republican, now a Trump adviser, pointed to the New York businessman's recent visits to Milwaukee and the outskirts of Lansing, Mich. When CNN host Brianna Keilar pointed out that his visits came to overwhelmingly white pockets of those cities, the Savannah Republican got into some trouble.

“Maybe it would have been nice if he went and had a backdrop with a burning car,” Kingston said, before he was cut off.

Here’s a transcript:

Keilar: He's polling right now at 2 percent with African-American voters. Is that the right way to attract a voting block that obviously favors Hillary Clinton much more than him?

Kingston: Well first of all, our internal poll show us doing better than 2 percent, but the reality is he's going there and he's taking it to them. He's giving them a proposal. He's saying, "You know what? I'm interested, I went to Milwaukee, I'm here tonight, I want to talk to you." And one of the things he actually said last night in North Carolina that kind of went uncovered, but he says "I don't want to preside over another generation of children who are left out of the American dream."

Keilar: I have to stop you because you said he's going there. He's not, he's in Diamondale, which is 93 percent white. When he was in Milwaukee the other day, it was part of Milwaukee that wasn't dealing …

Kingston: Well yeah, but Brianna he went –

Keilar: It's almost completely white.

Kingston: I mean, maybe it would have been nice if he went and had a backdrop with a burning car, but the reality is –

Keilar: No, no, no, no, no, no - I'm not talking about a burning car. I'm talking about meeting with black voters.

Kingston: Well, he met with David Clarke, who as you know is the African-American Sheriff of Milwaukee, and he's engaged with him. And his rallies are open to the public. Last night in North Carolina, we saw a lot of African-Americans. I wasn't sure about the crowd content tonight, but the reality is –

Keilar: It's white. We checked.

This is somewhat of a new role for Kingston, a 2014 U.S. Senate candidate who was an early supporter of Ted Cruz. When pushed further on Trump's minority strategy, Kingston said the nominee is “sincere about reaching out” to black voters and invoked Bruce LeVell, the Dunwoody jeweler who heads the candidate’s national diversity council. He was later asked to account for an Indian-American Republican who was tossed from Trump’s Thursday rally in Charlotte.

“If something like that happened, I can promise you that it didn’t happen with Donald Trump or any of the management of the Trump team saying, let’s get rid of the guy, we don’t like the way he looks.”

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About the Author

Greg Bluestein
Greg Bluestein
Greg Bluestein is a political reporter who covers the governor's office and state politics for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.