Donald Trump said his meeting with African-American pastors on Monday resulted in “lots of good ideas,” though it did not end with a consensus endorsement from the group.
The Republican presidential frontrunner said he received “many, many endorsements” from the group of about 100 religious leaders, but declined to put an exact number on it. Prior to the meeting, some of the pastors took issue with Trump’s campaign characterizing the sit down as a show of support.
“I don't think I saw backlash. I saw love in that room…[The meeting] went longer because of the love. It didn’t go longer for other reasons,” Trump told reporters after the meeting.
But others in the room told NBC’s Katy Tur that Trump got an earful for his rhetoric, which has come under fire for being racially insensitive.
Last week, Trump’s campaign released a statement touting an endorsement from the coalition of black pastors he met with on Monday in Trump Tower in New York City. But backlash from some of the attendees who say the sit down was not meant to be an endorsement forced Trump’s campaign to hastily cancel a new conference.
“Probably some of the Black Lives Matter folks called them up and said, ‘Oh, you shouldn't be meeting with Trump because he believes that all lives matter,’” Trump said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” earlier Monday. “I believe black lives do matter, but I believe all lives matter very strongly.”
Darrell Scott, one of the religious leaders who helped organize the meeting with Trump, told the Associated Press it was “a miscommunication.”
A letter published last week in Ebony magazine from leading black religious leaders asked those attending the meeting: “By siding with a presidential candidate whose rhetoric pathologizes Black people, what message are you sending to the world about the Black lives in and outside of your congregations?”
The cancelled press conference is the latest embarrassing hiccup for Trump’s campaign when it comes to issues of race relations. A black protester at a Trump event was assaulted earlier this month. Trump later said, "Maybe he should have been roughed up because it was absolutely disgusting what he was doing."
He also retweeted inaccurate murder statistics which greatly exaggerated the number of whites killed by blacks.
Attendees said those issues were talked about in the meeting, but Trump afterward told reporters he doesn't plan to change much.
“The tone has taken me to first position in every single poll including state and including national polls," Trump said. "The beautiful thing about the meeting is that they really didn’t ask me to change the tone. I think they want to see victory.”