The much-maligned Stephen Ross fundraiser for President Donald Trump took place Friday.
And for the first time, we heard from Trump on Ross, the Miami Dolphins owner under fire from wide receiver Kenny Stills and facing boycotts of his exercise chains SoulCycle and Equinox over his financial support of the president.
“Stephen Ross is a great friend of mine,” Trump told reporters at the White House prior to attending the fundraiser. “He’s a very successful guy. We were competitors but friends in real estate in New York in the old days. He’s a great guy.
“He is, by the way, probably more inclined to be a liberal, if you want to know the truth. But he likes me.”
Trump’s support echoes Ross defense of fundraiser
Trump’s line speaks to the tack Ross has taken since backlash arose around the fundraiser that sold tickets ranging from $100,000 to $250,000.
Stills and others have criticized Ross for supporting the president’s re-election campaign during a week when a suspected gunman echoed Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric to target Mexicans in the El Paso, Texas Walmart massacre that claimed 22 lives.
Trump also led the campaign against NFL players kneeling during the national anthem to protest racial inequality and social injustice, imploring NFL owners in 2017 to “Get that son of a bitch off the field right now, out, he’s fired.”
Ross’ non-profit aims to ‘eliminate racial discrimination’
Ross runs a non-profit with a mission statement to “educate and empower the sports community to eliminate racial discrimination, champion social justice and improve race relations,” a statement that Stills points out as at odds with Trump’s values.
Ross’ defense of Trump support
Ross defended his support of Trump in a statement Wednesday touting his friendship with Trump while allowing room to disagree.
“I have know Donald Trump for 40 years, and while we agree on some issues, we strongly disagree on many others, and I have never been bashful about expressing my opinions.”
Trump appeared to allude to Ross not being “bashful” about expressing his opinions by labeling him as a liberal on Friday.
But as Stills and others have pointed out, it’s difficult if not impossible to reconcile support for racial equality and social justice while raising money for Trump’s re-election campaign.
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