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June 05, 2016

Nutter: Trump 'ignorant' for singling out black supporter at rally

Former Philadelphia mayor says presumptive GOP nominee will alienate Republican leaders with

Politics Race Relations
060516_NutterCNNTrump Source/CNN

Former Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter speaks on CNN's "Erin Burnett OutFront."

Former Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, now an outspoken political commentator on CNN, says Donald Trump was out of line for singling out a lone African-American supporter at a rally in California last Friday, exclaiming, "Oh, look at my African-American over here!"

Appearing on a panel led by Erin Burnett, Nutter bashed Trump for displaying a pattern of racially insensitive and out-of-touch behavior.

"Clumsy, or racist?" Burnett asked.

"At a minimum, ignorant," Nutter said. "Just when you think you've heard the last crazy, weird, bizarre thing, now we have the attack on the American judge and his heritage, and the pointing out of a singular African-American at a rally. I don't get that. This is some very strange and disturbing behavior from this individual."

Nutter's first reference is to U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel, who is presiding over the Trump University fraud lawsuits. Trump has claimed that Curiel, born in Indiana, presents a "conflict of interest" because his Mexican heritage clashes with Trump's own public avowal to build a wall along the southern U.S. border.

Gregory Cheadle, the man called out by Trump at last Friday's rally, has since come forward to say he wasn't offended by the presumptive GOP nominee's remarks. Cheadle, himself a politican, is a Republican candidate in California's first congressional district.

"I never, ever sensed any racism on his part," said Cheadle, who reportedly met with Trump in the crowd after the rally, grabbing his attention by shouting, "Uncle Donald, Uncle Donald." "We are a super-sensitive people now when it comes to race. I mean, super sensitive. And so we're ready to pull that racist trigger and sometimes unnecessarily so."

This isn't the first time Nutter, a vocal supporter of Hillary Clinton, has weighed in on the racial overtones of the 2016 presidential race. In February, Nutter, said it was "slightly offensive" that Bernie Sanders seemed only to discuss African-Americans in the context of jail and criminal justice.

Ultimately, Nutter believes Trump's failure to perceive racial slights will backfire with other Republican leaders, including Paul Ryan, whose recent endorsement came only after a period of deep skepticism.

The remarks come as protests intensify between Trump opponents, supporters and police at rallies around the country. In a March incident in North Carolina, a black protester was assaulted by a white a Trump supporter. Later that month, in Tuscon, Ariz., a black Trump supporter and U.S. airman sucker-punched a white Trump protester — in part, Trump later claimed, because of the presence of Ku Klux Klan members at his rally. Both men now face criminal charges.

Though other members of the CNN panel suggested Trump merely used a "term of endearment" or spoke in the heat of the moment last Friday, Nutter questioned the rhetorical wisdom of the possessive phrase.

"Who knows what he's actually trying to say, but this is a 60-some-plus year-old man who is still trying to figure out how to treat people decently and use language that makes some sense," Nutter said. "I don't know what that 'heat of the moment' was—he's at his own rally. It wasn't like an intense circumstance or situation."