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Pastor Supports Trump After Confronting Him About Racism


And I'm David Greene in Cleveland. Let's meet a man who introduced Donald Trump at a big rally here. It is Cleveland Pastor Darrell Scott. He first met Trump six years ago.

DARRELL SCOTT: I looked him right in his eye and said, why should black people vote for you? You've got a reputation on the streets that you're a racist.

GREENE: Trump convinced Scott he is not a racist and is a leader.

SCOTT: He said, well, I would propose that we rebuild our inner cities. And who's a better builder than Donald Trump? And we need to create jobs. But who's a better job creator than Donald Trump? And I thought, no, I can't think of a better builder than Trump. And he said, that's what I do. I build. I create jobs.

GREENE: I asked Pastor Scott about a recent Trump rally in North Carolina.

How did you react when you saw that young black man punched? Were you at the rally?

SCOTT: No, I saw it on television...

GREENE: Ok, you saw it on television. What did you think?

SCOTT: I was amused.

GREENE: Amused?

SCOTT: I was amused. And listen, I mean, you've got this old coot that swung on this black guy. I mean, I was surprised that the black guy didn't punch back. I didn't like it, but I wasn't alarmed, like, oh my God. Look what happened.

GREENE: If you are trying to convince people that Donald Trump is the right person to be president for the black community, how is it helpful for him to say that a white man at a rally must love his country after that man punches a young black man inside a Donald Trump rally? How is that helpful in that cause?

SCOTT: Well, I'll say this. I really believe if a black guy had punched a white guy, he would've said the same thing. When people are in spectator events or participatory events, the possibility for violence exists. I mean, I acknowledge that possibility. I don't like it. I don't condone it. But I acknowledge that the potential exists. If you're at a ball game, and someone begins to disrupt - they try to run out on the court - they're going to be removed. And if they resist the movement, they're going be forcibly removed.

GREENE: I've covered politics for, I mean, more than 15 years. I mean, going to campaign events - Republican events, Democratic events, different candidates. I don't know if I remember, consistently, you know, this sort of tension and violence showing up, one of them after another...

SCOTT: There was a riot in 1968 in Chicago.

GREENE: Well, '68, I mean, that's a long time ago. I guess...

SCOTT: Yeah, but that was a political - that wasn't necessarily black-white issue. That was political as well.

GREENE: But we have canceled events. I mean, what is this speaking to, to you, the fact that this anger is sort of surrounding this candidate and this is happening?

SCOTT: I don't know. I think the media is driving it. I really do. I think the media is driving it. I mean, Chicago was almost a perfect storm.

GREENE: This is the canceled rally recently, in Chicago.

SCOTT: Yeah. You have the pro-Trump crowd there. You got the anti-Trump crowd there. Hostility is in the air. The Trump camps senses the hostility. Then they all say, you know what? We're going to have some problems tonight. I'm going to call this rally off.

GREENE: Couldn't he do more to calm this down?

SCOTT: He did. He canceled the event.

GREENE: But saying something? I mean, it's like...

SCOTT: He said, listen, we're not going to have the event tonight. Go in peace.

GREENE: But saying something - saying, you know, this is politics. This is not about violence. You know, don't attack people at my events...

SCOTT: But I think all the candidates could do that. You know what I haven't heard? Because, you know, you're having - Mr. Trump is blaming supporters of other candidates. And you hear the other candidates saying, no, it's not. Why won't Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, John Kasich - why don't they say - if they said, listen, if you're a supporter of mine, please do me a favor. If you really support me, do not go to the Trump rallies trying to disrupt. Don't do that. We're bigger than that. We're better than that. Don't do that. I bet you you won't see any protests.

GREENE: That is Cleveland Pastor Darrell Scott.


Now let's listen to Fernand Amandi here in Florida. He's in Miami. He's with the polling firm Bendixen & Amandi. He has worked for Hillary Clinton in the past, we should disclose, but no presidential candidate now. Good morning, sir.

FERNAND AMANDI: Good morning, Steve.

INSKEEP: So we've heard of polls saying that Trump voters are disproportionately people who are lower on the economic and education scale. But we also heard that affluent voter here in Tampa earlier in the program. Has Trump's support broadened at all?

AMANDI: Well, it remains to be seen. What certainly he has been able to do is kind of defy expectations, Steve, and raise the sense that, in the Republican electorate, a lot of folks thought he was only going to be able to top out at 30, 35 percent of the vote. We now see that margin increasing into the high 40s, high 50s. Whether or not he can break that Republican bubble of support that he has into independents and even Democrats I think is the big question going in now to the general election, as it looks like he's poised to be the Republican nominee.

INSKEEP: We'd seen polls in recent weeks showing that most Republican voters still oppose Trump, even though he keeps winning because he's got a plurality in a divided race. Is that changing at all?

AMANDI: I think it is. I mean, I think the question now becomes - as it's now a three-man race on the Republican side and really, Ted Cruz is the only real viable anti-Trump alternative - now you have a potential Ted Cruz candidacy that could stop Trump within Republican circles and finally make the case that that limited appeal that Trump has is the reality. That Never-Trump hash tag meme that kind of emerged out of this cycle is really going to be put to the test now. And Ted Cruz is going to try and get the lion's share of these thousand delegates that are left on the table before the Cleveland convention for the Republicans.

INSKEEP: Now, when you looked at the exit polls, particularly at Latinos here in Florida, where the Latino vote is so huge - and this is a part of the vote you specialize in - what did you see in yesterday's results?

AMANDI: Well, I see that while Donald Trump may claim that he loves the Hispanics, the Hispanics certainly don't love him back, particularly on the Republican side. Marco Rubio dominated amongst the Republican Hispanic vote in the state of Florida yesterday. Donald Trump only managed about a quarter of that vote - only 26 percent - in spite of winning a majority of all other Republican voters in the state yesterday. So I think that's what has so many Republicans concerned about his prospects in the general election. In another recent poll we did nationally of Hispanics overall, he only managed, Steve, 16 percent of the Hispanic vote totals right now. That's way underperforming - below what Mitt Romney got in 2012 on a low-water mark, a lot of people consider, in 2012 for Mitt Romney that the Republicans cannot afford again if they want to capture the White House.

INSKEEP: Well, if Trump comes back and says, hey I won Florida; that means I can win it in November when it's a swing state, would that be something that seems possible to you, given his performance among Latinos?

AMANDI: You know, he's going to have to prove that he can do that outside of Republican voters. Of course, Florida's an important state, maybe the most important state. But I think he's still got lot yet to prove to show that he can be competitive here in November.

INSKEEP: Fernand Amandi, thank you so much.

AMANDI: Thank you, Steve.

INSKEEP: He's with the polling firm Bendixen & Amandi International. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.