WASHINGTON, District of Columbia—During the campaign’s weekly teleconference with editors of black and ethnic news media yesterday, a high-level staffer for Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump revealed that the meeting with black preachers in New York last week was disbanded because a compensation deal could not be reached.
The staffer spoke under the condition of anonymity because she was not authorized to speak for the Trump presidential campaign, though she is a longtime employee of the Trump business enterprise.
According to the Trump aide, the black preachers showed up for the meeting because Mr. Trump assured them he would make a deal before the meeting would start. She said the deal fell through when the black preachers “threw Mr. Trump a crooked deal.”
“Mr. Trump was ready to do a deal for during the Republican primaries,” the staffer said. “But they reneged and wanted a guarantee they’d be brought on as consultants when Mr. Trump won the nomination, for the general election. But that deal had been taken off the table from the get-go when negotiations first started.”
The staffer said several black preachers who were “already on the payroll” had been unsuccessful at lobbying the other black preachers who were invited to the meeting.
“They had over two weeks to convince the others, but it seemed they did very little work before coming to the meeting.”
In response to a question from a black newspaper editor, the aide would not specify any monetary amount discussed during the meeting but said it was “very substantial money.”
“Believe me, we offered some nice walking-around money, much better than what any Democrats ever paid them. Plus they were paid to attend the meeting. And Mr. Trump even footed the bill for travel, hotel, bar tab, clothing, and any other expenses related to their stay in New York City. He was very accommodating with them.”
Veteran political operative Samuel Williams, who was Southern field director for the John Edwards 2004 and 2008 presidential campaigns, believes Mr. Trump should be “extremely wary and cautious” when dealing with black preachers.
Speaking by telephone from Charlotte, where he is the Carolinas field director for the Martin O’Malley presidential campaign, Mr. Williams said the Trump campaign was “playing with fire.”
“We got our butts kicked in 2008 in South Carolina and Florida when we didn’t pay the black preachers, like we paid them in 2004,” Mr. Williams said.
Mr. Williams, author of the 2009 political e-book, The Real Reasons Why Black Preachers Prefer Mercedes Benz and Lexus over Lincoln, said Mr. Trump should “make a deal with them for God’s sake.”
“We won big in South Carolina in 2004. But in ‘08 we barely scratched 18 percent, finished third. Guess Obama and Hillary paid them then.”
Mr. Williams believes not paying the black preachers was the “cross on the coffin” that derailed the Edwards campaign in 2008.
“If we had won South Carolina and Florida, Obama would’ve never had to leave Chicago. Trump’s going to need them if he wants to win in the South.”
In 2008, after finishing third in the South Carolina—his birth state—and Florida primaries, Mr. Edwards ended his campaign in late January and eventually endorsed Barack Obama.
In the conference call, the Trump staffer told the new editors that negotiations with the black preachers were still in motion.
“We’re still trying to make a deal. It’s not over yet. Mr. Trump is hell-bent on winning more Black votes than any Republican presidential candidate in history.”
Holleran N. Yellen II reports on dynamics of 2016 presidential election campaigns.
Trump Photo: John Pemble/Flickr — https://goo.gl/5YvhVZ