President Trump on Wednesday cut off a reporter who attempted to ask whether describing himself as a “nationalist” on the campaign trail had emboldened white nationalists.
“I don’t know why you’d say that,” the president said in response to the question from PBS NewsHour’s Yamiche Alcindor in the East Room of the White House. “That’s a racist question.”
Alcindor noted that some critics saw Trump’s embrace of the “nationalist” label as a disguised appeal to white supremacists that damaged the standing of Republicans with minorities and moderates.
“I don’t believe that,” Trump replied. “Why do I have my highest poll numbers ever with African-Americans? That’s such a racist question.”
The White House and conservative media outlets pointed to an August Rasmussen Reports poll showing Trump’s support among African-Americans has nearly doubled (from 19 percent to 36 percent) since he took office. But most polls show Trump’s approval rating among black voters has hovered between 10 percent ad 15 percent throughout his presidency, while roughly 80 percent of African-Americans disapprove of his performance as president.
“You know what the word is? I love our country,” he continued. “I do. You have nationalists, you have globalists. I also love the world. I don’t mind helping out the world. But we have to straighten out our country first. We have a lot of problems.”
Trump added: “To say what you just said is so insulting to me. That’s a terrible thing you said.”
During the press conference, which was convened for Trump to address the midterm election results, Trump sparred with several reporters, including CNN’s Jim Acosta, who pressed him about labeling the caravan of asylum-seeking migrants an “invasion.”
Trump scolded Acosta and refused to allow CNN’s chief White House correspondent a follow-up question.
“I tell you what, CNN should be ashamed of itself having you working for them,” he said. “You are are a rude, terrible person. You shouldn’t be working for CNN. You’re a very rude person.”
Trump repeatedly ordered other reporters, including CNN’s April Ryan, who tried to ask about voter suppression, to “sit down.” Alcindor and Ryan are both blacks
The event was the president’s first scheduled open-ended press conference at the White House since February 2017. It is only the second one he has held with the White House press corps since taking office.