An official of Donald Trump’s campaign has resigned over remarks she made blaming the election of President Barack Obama for racism in the country, as the Republican nominee tries to court African Americans.
“I don’t think there was any racism until Obama got elected,” Kathy Miller, an official of the Trump campaign’s unit in Ohio told The Guardian in an interview.
She added, “We never had problems like this…Now, with the people with the guns, and shooting up neighbourhoods, and not being responsible citizens, that’s a big change, and I think that’s the philosophy that Obama has perpetuated on America.”
The remarks couldn’t have come at a more sensitive time as protests continued over the fatal shooting of two African-American men in separate incidents in Charlotte, North Carolina, and Tulsa, Oklahoma, this week.
“If you’re black and you haven’t been successful in the last 50 years, it’s your own fault. You’ve had every opportunity, it was given to you,” Miller said in the interview.
“You’ve had the same schools everybody else went to. You had benefits to go to college that white kids didn’t have. You had all the advantages and didn’t take advantage of it. It’s not our fault, certainly.”
Miller quit on Thursday after apologising for her “inappropriate” remarks.
The misstep came at a time when Trump is trying to court African-Americans who have voted Democratic for decades. He famously started by asking them to give him a chance as, he argued, Democrats were taking their support for granted.
“What do you have to lose?” he had asked.
On Thursday, Trump described protests in Charlotte a “national crisis” and called for a “national anti-crime agenda” to deal with racial tensions.
“There is no right to engage in violent disruption or to threaten the peace and safety of others,” Trump said in a speech in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, adding the people who suffer the most in these situations are “law-abiding African-American residents” who face other challenges. He slammed the protestors for “lawless conduct”, and praised the police.
His Democratic rival Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, has been more measured, and appealed for better police-community relations.