Trump cancels ballyhooed meeting with black pastors
A much anticipated meeting between Donald Trump and about 100 black pastors and religious leaders was abruptly canceled when it became apparent that most of them would not endorse the candidate.
The Trump campaign announced the meeting on Friday, but over the weekend, a group of black academics and clergy posted a letter on the website of Ebony Magazine warning the pastors that endorsing Trump would be "a mistake."
Republican presidential front runner Donald Trump has canceled a public event set for Monday where he had planned to announce endorsements from black pastors, after a group of African-American academics and clergy members urged them to reconsider, citing Trump's "racially inaccurate ... rhetoric."
Trump sent out word to media outlets last week that he would hold an early afternoon news conference Monday to announce the endorsement of his campaign by "100 African American Evangelical pastors and religious leaders...after a private meeting."
He did not reveal the names of the people he expected to meet.
On Sunday he tweeted: "Will be meeting on Monday at Trump Tower with a large group of African American Pastors. Many I know-wonderful people! Not a press event."
In an open letter published on the website of Ebony Magazine, 114 academics and church leaders warned the pastors that meeting with Trump would be a mistake.
"We are concerned that your choice to meet with Mr. Trump, particularly in such a visible way, will not only de-radicalize the Black prophetic political tradition, but will also give Trump the appearance of legitimacy among those who follow your leadership and respect your position as clergy," the letter said.
"Trump’s racially inaccurate, insensitive and incendiary rhetoric should give those charged with the care of the spirits and souls of Black people great pause."
Trump's spokeswoman Hope Hicks, confirmed that the previously scheduled event had been canceled. She did not respond when asked whether the letter directly influenced Trump's decision to cancel Monday's press conference.
Hicks said the change had first been made public on Saturday, when an update to the previously announced event described it as an "informal meet and greet" that was "not a press event" and "after which a number of attendees are expected endorse Mr. Trump's campaign."
There are many black pastors and clergy who almost always vote Republican because they consider values the most important issue in the campaigns. This is especially true in the South, where blacks in general are more conservative than their Northern brethren.
But one has to wonder about the competency of Trump's campaign staff, who apparently briefed the press that the meeting would be followed by endorsements, only to walk that back a little bit on Saturday and then blow it up on Sunday with the cancelation of the meeting.
It might be more a question of lines of communication getting tangled, which is not unusual in a campaign gearing up from operating in a few states to going national. But by canceling the meeting, the candidate risks alienating some key supporters. The campaign should identify which black pastors are of a mind to support them and then appear with them, probably in a Southern venue.