Fri. Jul 19th, 2024

Trump’s Black GOP allies challenged during tense discussion tailored to Black men

By 37ci3 Jun27,2024

FAIRBURN, Ga. – Reps. Wesley Hunt of Texas and Byron Donalds of Florida kicked off the latest iteration of the “Congress, Cognac and Cigars” event outside Atlanta aimed at attracting more blacks to the GOP ranks, two Donald Trump allies set their sights on the conversation.

“All we want is for you to hear us,” Hunt said, adding that viewers don’t have to agree with everything they say and will have an opportunity to voice their opinions.

During a nearly two-hour conversation moderated by former ESPN anchor and conservative podcaster Sage Steele in a cigar lounge filled with a diverse but mostly black audience, several black men took them up on the opportunity.

Donalds and Hunt were repeatedly challenged by several attendees over their legislative practices, their positions on immigration and reparations, and their unwavering support for Trump. The dialogue was sometimes contentious, with several audience members at various times accusing lawmakers of repeating common Republican talk or avoiding issues of concern.

The event highlighted the challenges Trump’s black allies may face in trying to woo independent or traditionally Democratic voters in cities like Atlanta, where some remain skeptical of the Republican Party despite efforts to more aggressively court voters of color.

The debate began with Donalds and Hunt urging the audience to leave the Democratic Party, claiming that President Biden and Vice President Harris “do not have the recipe for success in this country.”

But toward the second half of the event, the atmosphere became tense, as Steele asked the room about the key issues they wanted to hear congressmen address. Among them were immigration, national security and “morality”.

Jason R., a retired, college-educated Black husband and father who declined to give his last name, clarified what “morality” refers to.

“Local representative brought correction On a defense bill to restore a Confederate monument depicting a ‘mammy’ receiving a white baby from a Confederate soldier,” he began: “Three out of four Black Republicans voted ‘no’ for it.”

“It seems deceptive to come in here and talk about issues and then vote for things that aren’t based on principle,” Jason said.

Hunt responded by sharing an anecdote about several members of his family, including himself, attending the military academy at West Point. Hunt said he sees value in living in “Robert E. Lee barracks.”

“Only in America can you have three black kids go to and graduate from the best leadership institute in the entire world and live in a barracks named after a Confederate general,” Hunt said. “If it was called something else. I wouldn’t have such a perspective.”

Donalds was also called a controversial comment he did during the Philadelphia stop of his “Congress, Cognac and Cigars” tour and argued that the Black family was stronger during the Jim Crow era.

“You can talk about the Black family, you can talk about the Black father, but when you put Jim Crow in it, you alienate people,” Richard Wright said at Wednesday’s event.

Donalds claimed his comments were misrepresented, saying he cited “empirical data” from the era that suggested higher intermarriage rates among black Americans.

“Nobody wants Jim Crow back,” Donalds said. “We were talking about black families and I was referring to an era.”

Donalds suggested that the backlash he received for the remark was the result of the Biden campaign targeting him as Trump’s vice presidential nominee.

“We’re in the middle of a presidential election, let’s call it, yes, I’m on the short list for vice president,” Donalds said. “The reason my comments are being taken this way is because the Joe Biden campaign, which is not responding to what’s hurting black Americans today, wants to take my words and twist my words to say I want Jim Crow back. This is a stupid conversation, I don’t want it.”

The response did little to quell the frustration felt among some attendees. The contributor, who declined to give his last name, is a graduate of Mike M. Emory University and is not affiliated with a particular party. He forcefully pointed out that Donalds himself made this statement and “tried to blame everyone”.

“You don’t need to invoke Jim Crow to make your point,” he said.

When the conversation turned to immigration, several members of the crowd intervened as Republican lawmakers criticized Biden over security on the southern border.

One participant, Allen Hill, asked, “What are you going to do to fix this?” he asked, and protested when Donalds responded with Republican proposals to close the border, limit the asylum process and use ICE to carry out mass deportations. audience members are billed as “Republic Talking Points.”

“It’s not an answer, it’s a story,” Hill said.

Donalds and Hunt had supporters in the room: One, Horace Holland Jr., was fed up with other audience members’ line of questioning about immigration and insisted that the conversation should be about black Americans rather than undocumented citizens.

“Why are you more worried about people who get illegal amnesty, a black man can be on the run for 20 years, but when he is found, he gets no amnesty!” Holland said.

Another point of contention was compensation.

“I’ll tell you, I don’t believe in reparations,” Donald said.

“Then you don’t understand the Black community,” Hill responded.

Donald tried to explain his position.

“If you’re going to talk about reparations today, you’re talking about taking money from other Americans,” Donalds said. “You are asking the American people today and in the future to pay this bill. Is it their bill to pay?

While Donalds and Hunt appeared to have their fair share of supporters in the room, it was as loud as about a dozen attendees who interrupted several times throughout the event to protest the two men, some of whom later told NBC News they did not identify as Democrats. or Republicans, more like “conservatives”.

“I think we’ve won points, we’ve taken away the frustrations, and we’ve figured out what we want to say for people in the Atlanta community who say they want to have an honest conversation with black men,” Jason R. said at the event.

Hunt and Donalds also said they gained valuable insight from the discourse, stressing that they will continue to travel to cities with large black populations to reach out to voters.

“I know there are spirited people here. There are some Democrats here, there are some people who disagree with us,” Hunt said. “As 50% of the Black Republicans in the halls of Congress, what we didn’t want to do was not be here. It was the worst thing we could do, not show up.”

“We may have our differences, and that’s fine. But when we walk out of this room, I understand your vision, you understand mine, we respect each other’s differences, we move forward, we build better, we do better – that’s what really matters,” Donalds added.

Hunt said his next two plans would be to hold a “Convention, Cognac and Cigars” event in Milwaukee closer to the Republican National Convention in July.

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By 37ci3

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