Donald Trump was invited to speak at the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People’s annual meeting but has not responded, the group told NBC News on Monday.
The NAACP issued a press release detailing their invitations to both major parties' candidates two months ago, on May 10. If Trump does not appear at the event, he'll be the first presidential candidate to skip the event in more than a decade.
The four-day event kicks off in Cincinnati on July 16, and presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton will speak on July 18, the first day of the Republican National Convention, which takes place in Ohio’s other major city, Cleveland. The Trump campaign did not respond to a request for comment.
The NAACP’s annual event comes after racially charged shootings rocked the nation and sent tensions surging; Trump has struggled to respond to the events, releasing a statement last week that inaccurately called the two black men killed by police “motorists,” when only Philando Castile was in a car; Alton Sterling was selling CDs on the street when he was killed in an altercation with police.
Trump ally and Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin said on CNN over the weekend that Trump is “trying to campaign as a racial healer,” and Trump himself has repeatedly said that he has a great relationship with minorities (and has gone as far as to say he’ll win a majority of their votes in November). In reality, however, Trump has extremely low approval ratings among minorities and general election voters alike.
Before running for president, Trump spent years promoting the theory that the first black president was born in Kenya, not America. As a candidate, Trump has repeatedly spread racially charged fiction (like false crime statistics suggesting black-on-white crime is far worse than it is), re-tweeted white supremacist Twitter accounts from his own when they praised him and spent days dancing around whether or not he’d disavow former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke’s support.
The NAACP has a long tradition of inviting both major party nominees to address their members; both 2008 Republican nominee John McCain and 2012 nominee Mitt Romney accepted their invitations. In 2004, George W. Bush skipped the event while running for re-election but spoke at the event in 2000 and 2006. Bob Dole did not speak in 1996, and Ronald Reagan did not speak in 1980. Reagan spoke -- and apologized -- the next year. Democratic candidates have all historically accepted the group's invitations.
Black voters overwhelmingly support Democrats in presidential elections, and Romney was booed in 2012 for pitching himself as a better president for black families than Barack Obama.
“If you want a president who will make things better in the African American community, you are looking at him,” Romney said then, earning boos and hisses from the crowd. “You take a look.”