Republican candidate for Senate John James privately told Black leaders that he thought there was no point in publicly calling out President Donald Trump’s racist statements — just weeks before he criticized Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden for comments he made about Black voters.
The comments were made during a video conference with Black leaders in Michigan on April 30 that was recently leaked to Salon
. In it, a Michigan pastor asked James why he has not publicly criticized Trump, and why the Black community should support and trust him given his silence. (In the same video conference, James also swapped out a photo of him and Trump
from his bookshelf in the background.)
"I've looked at your campaign throughout the months," the pastor said. "As I looked at some of the material, I don't see you standing out front saying, 'No, I condemn this regardless of my party affiliation.' You say that you will say something. I don't want to wait until you’re in a seat to hear you say something."
"I don't need somebody that is going to be supported by the president, I need somebody that is going to actually stand," the pastor added. "And sometimes standing is not just saying it behind closed doors, but it's saying it in the front line."
James defended himself, saying he felt like it was better to be silent in public to gain access to Trump, comparing himself to the biblical figure of Esther.
"Do you think that Esther could have saved her people by spitting in the king's face?" he said. "No. She was able to do that, because she was in the king's chambers. Do you think that Moses was able to speak to the pharaoh multiple times? No, it's because he was raised in those and was able to get into those chambers. And all throughout, how things have worked has been the ability to access."
James continued, saying, "Donald Trump doesn’t need less Black folks around him, he needs more. And that's exactly what I’m asking you to do is to look at my actions, because they say actions speak louder than words. I’m asking you to look at my actions and recognize that, working in reality, that I have to make sure that I get to the seat so I can help people, which is why I'm having this call here."
James added that his goal is "achieving equity and equality for our people, not standing up on Twitter and condemning folks," adding, "We've had our minds twisted to believe that speaking out is tantamount to fixing things."
Yet when Biden was criticized for telling The Breakfast Club's Charlemagne tha God
"you ain't black" if you have a problem figuring out whether you support him or Trump, James had no qualms with voicing his disapproval publicly.
"Vice President Biden, with all due respect, your latest comments are both pathetic and hurtful," James said in a video posted to Twitter. "You challenging me and millions of other people out there on their Blackness, descendants of slaves, from you, is some seriously condescending, out of touch bull-crap. You're embarrassing yourself, Mr. Vice President."
James even penned an op-ed for Fox News
telling Biden "I'm Black enough to think for myself."
In the video conference, James claimed he disagrees on Trump with "plenty, plenty of issues,"
like cutting funding to the Great Lakes, calling African nations "shithole" countries, and speaking ill of the late John McCain.
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