Donald Trump touted his “fantastic relationships” with black Americans on Monday while suggesting he would win a significant portion of black voters in the 2020 elections after launching racist attacks against four Democratic congresswomen of colour last week.
Asked whether he predicted backlash within the black community for telling Congresswomen Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, Ayanna Pressley and Ilhan Omar to “go back” to their countries, the president responded, “There’s no racial tension.”
“We have fantastic relationships with the African American community,” he added, “and I think you’ll see that in 2020.”
Mr Trump has been entrenched in a racist row with the four congresswomen, colloquially known as “the squad,” ever since he posted the incendiary comments to Twitter last weekend. The tweets appeared to motivate his supporters to take on a controversial new chant at his rally in North Carolina, shouting “send her back” after the president singled out Ms Omar.
The Minnesota Democrat is the only one of the four congresswomen who was not born in the US. As a Somalian refugee, Ms Omar emigrated to the US in the 1990s.
The four politicians addressed Mr Trump’s comments in a press conference last week in which Ms Pressley thanked Americans of various backgrounds for their support.
“Our squad is big,” she said in the 15 July conference. “Our squad includes any person committed to building a more equitable and just world…And given the size of this squad and this great nation, we cannot, we will not, be silenced.”
The House also delivered a historic rebuke of the president's tweets after passing a resolution to condemn Mr Trump's "racist comments" towards the congresswomen. The Democrats were joined by several Republicans, including moderates in battleground regions, as well as Justin Amash, an Independent congressman who left the Republican Party earlier this year after supporting an impeachment inquiry into the president.
Mr Trump continued attacking the congresswomen after the vote, however, calling them “a very Racist group of troublemakers” in a tweet earlier on Monday.
“The ‘Squad’ is a very Racist group of troublemakers who are young, inexperienced, and not very smart,” he wrote,. “They are pulling the once great Democrat Party far left, and were against humanitarian aid at the Border...And are now against ICE and Homeland Security.”
Later in the day, Mr Trump suggested his polling numbers suggested increasing support among African-Americans — despite data showing voters actually favour the four congresswomen over the president.
"Look, I had my best numbers recently and it's because of the economy and what I've done for the African-Americans," he said. "The African-Americans are doing better than they ever have in our country. We're creating numbers."
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