Over the weekend, Donald Trump courted black voters by basically telling them their lives are terrible, so they might as well take a shot at voting for a Republican for a change.
Republican National Committee spokesman Sean Spicer was asked about Trump’s new outreach efforts during an appearance on CNN. He offered a different olive branch to the black community on behalf of his party’s presidential nominee, arguing that Trump is a champion for African Americans because his Mar-a-Lago club isn’t actively racist.
“I think it’s important to look at the totality of Donald Trump,” Spicer told CNN’s Brianna Keilar. “In 1985 when he bought Mar-a-Lago and the liberals didn’t let people join clubs because of the color of their skin, it was Donald Trump that went out and bucked the establishment and fought to make sure that people, no matter the color of their skin or their religion, could join the club.”
That remark comes at about the 1:08 mark of this clip:
Trump himself made that same argument during a Good Morning America appearance in March, telling George Stephanopoulos that “there’s nobody that’s done so much for equality as I have. You take a look at Palm Beach, Florida, I built the Mar-a-Lago Club, totally open to everybody, a club that frankly set a new standard in clubs, and a new standard in Palm Beach, and I’ve gotten great credit for it.”
There’s more to the story than what Spicer or Trump would have you believe, however. While it’s true that Trump sued the town of Palm Beach, Florida because officials there had issues with Mar-a-Lago being open to Jews and African Americans, the Anti-Defamation League expressed concern that Trump was blowing things out of proportion.
“Even the Anti-Defamation League in New York, which in a 1994 battle forced Palm Beach’s Sailfish Club to open up its membership, was concerned that Mr. Trump was using the charge of anti-Semitism for his own mercantile ends,” the Wall Street Journal reported at the time. “The league’s national director, Abraham Foxman, met with Mr. Trump soon after to air his concerns. According to Mr. Foxman, Mr. Trump agreed to modify his claims to allege only that the town council has treated Mar-a-Lago unfairly, compared with other clubs in town.”
Furthermore, it’s not as though middle-class African Americans are purchasing memberships to Trump’s club — Mar-a-Lago initiation fees are reportedly at least $100,000.
The logic Trump and Spicer employed with regard to Mar-a-Lago and what it allegedly says about Trump and race relations is similar to what the candidate recently said while trying to appeal to voters with disabilities. Last month, Trump told reporter Brian Kilmeade that he spends “millions of dollars making buildings good for people that are disabled.” What he didn’t mention is that the Americans with Disabilities Act requires him to do so.