President Donald Trump on Tuesday morning told reporters that the White House switchboard has been lighting up, letters have been sent to him, and emails have been received, voicing overwhelming support for his description of Baltimore, Maryland, as a “disgusting rat and rodent infested mess.”
Trump made those statements over the weekend, directing his anger toward Rep. Elijah Cummings, the Democratic representative of the district that encompasses Baltimore and some suburban areas. Trump laid the blame for the supposed conditions of that area, which has a higher median income than the national average, on Cummings.
“Those people are living in hell in Baltimore,” Trump said, per reporting from the Associated Press, adding that people “really appreciate” what he’s doing by sparking a dialogue on the matter.
The White House didn’t provide any evidence backing Trump’s comments, nor have they provided any details on whether individuals had contacted the president to voice dissatisfaction with what he’s said. Trump explained, however, that “African American people love the job” he’s doing.
“Baltimore has been very badly mishandled for many years…I feel so sorry for the people of Baltimore and if they ask me I will get involved.” – Trump pic.twitter.com/ZiPoqe85yh
— Meridith McGraw (@meridithmcgraw) July 30, 2019
Polling on that front demonstrates Trump is likely going on anecdotal rather than empirical evidence. Only 17 percent of black respondents in a Politico/Morning Consult poll this past week say they have a positive approval rating of Trump, while 73 percent say they disapprove of the job he’s done as president.
Trump may have derived his opinions from a select group of people. Earlier this week, Trump met with an organization called Coalition of African American Pastors. The group consists of conservative-minded black religious leaders who are anti-choice and anti-marriage equality. They are also decidedly pro-Trump.
The organization is so far to the right that it once proposed impeaching members of the Obama administration for their support of same-sex marriage.
The organization’s president, Bill Owens, has defended Trump against charges of racism from the past few weeks. “I find President Trump leader of all colors,” Owens said in an interview with CNN, per reporting from Real Clear Politics. “He attacks who he will. He’s his own man. I can’t dictate what he should or shouldn’t do. But he does not just attack black people.”
But an analysis from HillReporter.com earlier this week detailed ways in which Trump’s rhetoric seems to be harsher toward his non-white critics than it is toward his white opponents. Trump’s attacks toward Rep. Jerry Nadler, for example, were much less personal and derogatory toward the citizens in his New York district than they were toward Cummings’s constituency.