- Promoter said RNC barred him from speaking at convention
- King was pardoned for manslaughter conviction in 1983
Boxing promoter Don King, who was reportedly denied a speaking role at this summer’s Republican National Convention because of a 1966 manslaughter conviction, joined presidential nominee Donald Trump on an Ohio campaign swing Wednesday.
King called Trump “an American to save the nation” at a campaign event at New Spirit Revival Center, a largely black church in King’s hometown of Cleveland.
“He’s fearless, he’s courageous and brave and bold enough to take on the system,” King said. “All things are possible with God.”
Trump returned the praise.
“He is a good guy. He’s a phenomenal person. He became very rich. He’s very smart,” Trump said. King’s been successful and “I have great respect for that, and I have great respect for him.”
Trump’s running mate, Indiana Governor Mike Pence, introduced King.
“The party doesn’t want him, the system doesn’t want him, the lying politicians don’t want him,” King said of Trump as the nominee sat behind him.
“We need Donald Trump, especially black people,” said King, who is black. “They told me, you’ve got to try to emulate and imitate the white man and then you can be successful so we tried that.”
He said he told Michael Jackson, “If you’re poor, you are a poor negro. I would use the n-word. But if you’re rich, you are a rich negro. If you are intelligent, intellectual, you’re an intellectual negro. If you’re a dancing and sliding and gliding nigger -- I mean negro -- you are a dancing and sliding and gliding negro,” King said.
The boxing hall of famer was expected to join Trump in the two other cities on the swing, Toledo and Dayton. King wasn’t expected to appear at Trump’s taping of an episode of Sean Hannity’s Fox News show on Wednesday.
Ohio is one of the most critical states to Trump’s chances of winning the White House in the November election. Trump leads there by 2 percentage points in a four-way race in the RealClearPolitics poll average, the site said Wednesday.
King, who was pardoned by the governor of Ohio in 1983, clashed with Republican Party leaders in July when he said they barred him from speaking at the national convention in Cleveland where Trump accepted the nomination.
“The GOP establishment won’t control Trump, but they’re trying,” King said at the time. “I don’t think they want Trump to win.”
Party officials didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday.
Civil-rights activist and commentator Al Sharpton in February described Trump as a white version of King.
“Both of them are great self-promoters and great at just continuing to talk even if you’re not talking back at ’em,” Sharpton told Politico.
Trump in June cited his endorsement from King as a defense against accusations of racism.
“Don King, and so many other African Americans who know me well and endorsed me, would not have done so if they thought I was a racist!” Trump tweeted.
Trump addressed last week’s police killing of a black man, Terence Crutcher, in Tulsa, Oklahoma, that was caught on video.
“To me it looked like he did everything you’re supposed to do, and he looked like a really good man,” Trump said.
“This young officer, I don’t know what she was thinking, but I’m very very troubled by that,” Trump said. “Did she get scared, was she choking, what happened?”
“People that choke, maybe they can’t be doing what they’re doing,” Trump said.
On Twitter, Trump also responded to overnight protests in Charlotte, North Carolina, over the police killing of another black man. After officers were injured in those protests, Trump wrote, “Hopefully the violence & unrest in Charlotte will come to an immediate end. To those injured, get well soon. We need unity & leadership.”