President Donald Trump participated in a town hall event at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia anchored by ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos on Tuesday entitled “The President and the People.”
The president responded to a question about income inequality, unemployment rates and COVID-19 within the African American community. “There was going to be unity. But unfortunately, that was hurt.”
STEPHANOPOULOS: We have another question on this subject from Pastor Carl Day (ph), he’s from Philadelphia, voted for Jill Stein last time.
QUESTION: How are you doing Mr. President?
QUESTION: You’ve coined a phrase, make America great again.
QUESTION: When has America been great for African Americans in the ghetto of America? Are you aware of how tone deaf that comes off the African American community?
TRUMP: Well, I can say this, we have tremendous African American support. You’ve probably seen it in the polls. We’re doing extremely well with African-American, Hispanic-American at levels that you’ve rarely seen a Republican have.
If you talk about make America great — if you look at just prior to — and I’m talking about for the black community — you look just prior to this horrible situation coming in from China, when the virus came in, that was the — probably the highest point, home ownership for the black community, home ownership, lower crime, the best jobs they’ve ever had, highest income, the best employment numbers they’ve ever had.
If you go back and you want to look over many years, you could just go back six or seven months from now, that was the best single moment in the history of the African-American people in this country, I think — I would say.
QUESTION: Well, I mean, your statement is though, make it great again. So historically, the African American experience, especially in these — out of these ghettos that have been out redlined, historically these ghettos that have systemically been set up (ph) –
TRUMP: Yes, yes.
QUESTION: — been treated the way that they have been, the conditions of the drugs, the guns and everything else that actually created the symptoms for what we see that you professed to be just Democratic cities in themselves, these things have historically been happening for African-Americans in these ghettos. And we have not been seeing a change, quite frankly under your administration, under the Obama administration, under the Bush, under the Clinton, the very same thing happening, the very same system, the cycles continue to ensue.
And we need to see — because you say again — we need to see when was that great, because that pushes us back to a time in which we cannot identify with such greatness.
And I mean you’ve said everything else about choking and everything else, but you have yet to addressed and acknowledge that there’s been a race problem in America.
TRUMP: So if you go — well, I hope there’s not a race problem. I can tell you, there’s none with me, because I have great respect for all races, for everybody. This country is great because of it.
But when you go back six months and you take a look at what was happening, you can’t even compare that with past administrations.
When you look at income levels — and a lot of things, because of the job situation, where they had the lowest income — the best unemployment numbers they’ve ever had, the black community by far.
And that was solving a lot of problems. And you know what else? It was bringing people together. I was starting to get, just before this was — we were having a long run of success. I was starting to get calls from Democrats that — hey, it’s starting work, let’s get together. People that you would never have thought this would have happened with.
There was going to be unity. But unfortunately that was hurt because we got set back —
TRUMP: But now, I think next year is going to be one of our best years economically —
QUESTION: But — but income inequality is still — but income inequality is higher. So I mean, jobs can be produced, but at the same time in a lot of these big, major cities where African-Americans are underserved, under-resourced, that’s — an $8 an hour job does not mean that they can necessarily afford to live where they have to live or where they’ve been living at for the last 20 years.
TRUMP: Well, the income inequality — which, I agree with you, is a problem. I always agreed with that. But if you look under President Obama and Biden the income inequality was phenomenal. It was — it was record setting. It was — it was —
STEPHANOPOULOS: It’s getting worse now.
TRUMP: Well, we’re talking about a plague coming in. Before the plague, we were doing very well.
Now, we will soon be doing well again, because we’re going to have a fantastic third quarter. You’re seeing the numbers come in. I think you’re going to have a GDP that’s mid-20s and may be much higher. Somebody said 35, I don’t know. That would (ph) — these are all records we’re talking about. And you’re going to have a — economically, you’re going to have a very good year next year.
But I agree with a lot of the things you say. But you have to look back, because we really had it going well. Had we not been hit by this horrible disease that came into our land — and all over the world by the way, it came all over the world — we would be in a position where, I think, income inequality would be different. It was really getting there. We were really driving it down. We were driving it —
STEPHANOPOULOS: Mr. President, we have — we have — we have to move on. But even before the pandemic the average black family was earning half of what the average white family was earning.