Trump's African-American: 'I Am Not A Trump Supporter' : The Two-Way Gregory Cheadle tells NPR he was not offended when presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump pointed to him at a recent California campaign rally and said, "Look at my African-American over here."
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Trump's African-American: 'I Am Not A Trump Supporter'

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Trump's African-American: 'I Am Not A Trump Supporter'

Trump's African-American: 'I Am Not A Trump Supporter'

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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

In political controversy, sometimes ordinary people get thrust into the spotlight. During a campaign rally in California, Donald Trump singled out a member of the audience and used the possessive my, as in belonging to him, to describe a black man in the audience. Some viewed that word choice racist or at the very least off key. NPR's Brakkton Booker tracked down the man to some surprising results.

BRAKKTON BOOKER, BYLINE: During a campaign stop Friday in the mostly white Northern California city of Redding, Donald Trump was trying to show he does have some support among African-Americans. His evidence...

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

DONALD TRUMP: We had a case where we had an African-American guy who was a fan of mine - great fan, great guy.

BOOKER: Trump told a meandering story about a black man at one of his rallies in Arizona who punched a white protestor wearing a Klu Klux Klan outfit. Some thought the black guy was anti-Trump, but...

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

TRUMP: The African-American guy said, I had enough, and nobody's going to run through an arena like that. And they reversed it, and it's a disgrace, OK?

BOOKER: In the telling of that story, Trump turned and motioned toward a black man in the audience.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

TRUMP: You know what I'm - oh, look at my African-American over here? Look at him. Are you the greatest?

BOOKER: That man was Gregory Cheadle. He was holding a Trump campaign sing.

GREGORY CHEADLE: I was not offended by it because he had been speaking positively about black people prior to that statement.

BOOKER: Cheadle is a Republican and happens to be running for a Congressional seat in California's 1st District.

CHEADLE: Had he said, here's my African-American friend or my African-American supporter or something like that, then there would be less ambiguity.

BOOKER: Cheadle says there are some phrases that Trump could have used that really would've angered him.

CHEADLE: Had he said something like, here's my African-American and then after that, he would've said, you know, what's up, dog or boy or using the n-word as they use it today, I really would've been offended.

BOOKER: Trump and Cheadle had a brief conversation after the rally, and Cheadle is not convinced that the Trump is racist.

CHEADLE: At this point in time, I could not attach the racist label to him based on what I experienced with him that day.

BOOKER: Ashley Bell is a Republican from Georgia and a Trump delegate to the Republican National Convention. Bell, who is also black, says he understands why some cringe when Trump used the term my African-American.

ASHLEY BELL: If you're African-American and you hear that, you definitely - your eyebrows are going to raise, and you're going to have questions about, what is this possessiveness he's using around the term for this gentleman?

BOOKER: Bell thinks Trump needs more African-Americans in his inner circle that help him understand the impact of these types of moments. If not, he risks further alienating black voters.

BELL: And that's something that as a Republican is unacceptable, and we can't, you know, have a nominee that's going to give up on trying to grow our party.

BOOKER: What about Gregory Cheadle, the black Republican Trump pointed to? He'll certainly vote for him in tomorrow's primary, right?

CHEADLE: I am not a Trump supporter. I went to hear Donald Trump because I have an open mind. No one party owns me.

BOOKER: Cheadle says he is still trying to decide between Trump, Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders and Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson. Brakkton Booker, NPR News.

[POST-BROADCAST CORRECTION: We incorrectly refer to the Ku Klux Klan as the Klu Klux Klan.]

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