President Trump said that he was the “least racist person” in a room with at least one person of color while talking about race and Black Lives Matter during the final presidential debate of 2020 on Thursday.
Trump and his Democratic opponent, Joe Biden, had a contentious and at times awkward exchange when asked by debate moderator Kristen Welker about Black Lives Matter and “the talk” that Black parents have with their kids about the police during the “Race in America” portion of the debate at Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn.
“Mr. President, you’ve described the Black Lives Matter movement as a symbol of hate,” Welker said. “You've shared a video of a man chanting white power to millions of your supporters. You've said that Black professional athletes exercising their First Amendment rights should be fired. What do you say to Americans who say that kind of language from a president is contributing to a climate of hate and racial strife?”
Trump said when he first heard of Black Lives Matter, protesters were chanting “pigs in a blanket, fry them like bacon,” and he thought it was “horrible.” The phrase was said at a Black Lives Matter-organized protest in 2015, according to CNN, but is not an official chant or slogan of the national organization or any of the local chapters.
“I got criminal justice reform done and prison reform and opportunity zones. I took care of Black colleges and universities,” Trump said. “I can't even see the audience because it's so dark, but I don't care who's in the audience. I'm the least racist person in this room.”
Welker, an NBC News correspondent who was in the room, is a Black woman.
Before asking about Black Lives Matter, Welker asked Biden and Trump if they understand why Black and brown families have to prepare their children for potentially hostile encounters with law enforcement because of the color of their skin.
“I do,” Biden said. “I never had to tell my daughter, if she's pulled over, put both hands on top of the wheel and don't reach for the glove box because someone may shoot you. But a Black parent, no matter how wealthy or how poor they are, has to teach their child: don't have a hoodie on when you go across the street. Making sure that if you get pulled over, just ‘yes, sir, no sir,’ hands on top of the wheel.”
Trump said he also understands, but then argued that no one has done more for the Black community than him.
“And if you look, with the exception of Abraham Lincoln, nobody has done what I've done. Criminal justice reform, Obama and Joe didn't do it. I don't even think they tried because they had no chance at doing it.”
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