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Pastor Mark Burns, a prominent Donald Trump surrogate, on Tuesday defended the GOP nominee’s unorthodox pitch to black voters. Burns argued that Trump recognizes “there is no such thing as the African-American community” and speaks to voters as Americans instead of “pandering.”
“I think the real question is not ‘What is Donald Trump going to do specifically for black Americans?’ but ‘What is Donald Trump, when he becomes president of the United States, going to do for the American citizen?’” Burns told Yahoo News and Finance Anchor Bianna Golodryga.
With just 35 days until Election Day, Hillary Clinton is crushing Trump when it comes to support among black voters. In some polls, Trump has been within a margin of error of zero.
But Burns claimed that those surveys do not accurately reflect Trump’s African-American support and accused the Democratic Party of taking advantage of black Americans for their votes. “The community has received very little in return,” Burns said. The statement somewhat echoed Trump’s own pitch to black voters: “What the hell do you have to lose?”
Burns also defended Trump’s claim that “our African-American communities are absolutely in the worst shape they’ve ever been in before,” a statement which drew fire for seeming to ignore America’s history of slavery and segregation.
“For us to keep going back and discussing what happened 400 years ago, it is horrible,” Burns said. “Let’s talk about what’s taking place today. There are injustices in this country, and we do need to deal with them, but we need to deal with them as Americans.”
Burns also said that America “does not own slavery.” He pointed to the African continent’s own history of slavery.
“Before we even landed here in America, it was other African slaves that enslaved other African slaves, he said. “It wasn’t the white man that chased after slaves in Africa,” he added.
Burns spoke at the Republican National Convention, and he frequently defends Trump when the GOP nominee’s provocative comments spark a national firestorm. But he did concede that Trump could have handled two recent controversies better: his early morning Twitter rant against former Miss Universe Alicia Machado and his threat to make former President Bill Clinton’s infidelities a campaign issue.
“If I was advising him as a pastor, I would have him take the higher road,” Burns said of the two issues.
Burns ended the interview by comparing Trump to Winston Churchill, the celebrated British prime minister who led his country through World War II.
“He’s really the Winston Churchill of today because we are literally at war,” Burns said. “We’re at war externally, against ISIS, and then we’re having a major racial division within our own country.”