BET Founder Praises Trump, Encourages African-Americans To Vote Not by Party, But Permanent Interests

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Black Entertainment Television founder Robert Johnson doubled down on his praise for the impact President Donald Trump’s economy is having on African-Americans.

He also encouraged African-Americans to vote in their “permanent interests” and not by party.

In July, the Democratic businessman, who backed Hillary Clinton in 2016, made headlines when he told CNBC that Trump deserves “a lot of credit for moving the economy in a positive direction” that has resulted in record-low unemployment levels for African-Americans.

Appearing on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” late last week, Johnson stood by that assessment.

“For African-Americans, the trend continues to be favorable,” he said, noting the unemployment rate continues to drop.

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“There used to be the old saying, that ‘When White America catches a cold, African-Americans get pneumonia,’” Johnson said.

“It’s going the opposite way now. White unemployment is going down; African-American unemployment is going down. That’s a plus-plus that you can’t argue with.”

Johnson then pivoted to talk about Trump.

“I give the president credit for doing positive things,” he said, adding he recently met with Trump to discuss the issue of retirement savings management among minorities.

Do you think African-American support for Trump will increase significantly in 2020?

Asked specifically if he could vote for Trump in 2020, Johnson demurred saying he would not reveal publicly for whom he intends to cast a ballot.

However, he did say that African-Americans should not be wed to a particular political party.

“In 1971 when the Congressional Black Caucus was founded … their philosophy is black voters should have: ‘No permanent friends, no permanent enemies, just permanent interests,’” he told the outlet.

Johnson explained: “At a time when everything now is identity politics, you’re Hispanic, you’re LGBTQ, you’re this, you’re that, women, you’re men, all these of things, it’s time for African-Americans to think in terms of their permanent interests, not being an appendage of either party, either the Democrats or the Republicans.”

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He went on to advise Trump and the Republicans to meet with black leaders to learn more about what African-Americans’ top concerns are.

“I don’t think it’s fundamentally in the best interests of African-Americans to be locked up in one party, particularly in an environment where everything is zero-sum game,” Johnson said.

The top executive likened it to a business deal, where you want to have more than one company competing for your support.

“I think for too long African-Americans have failed to recognize that they can be, we can be, the balance of power in party,” he said.

Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale said earlier this summer that based on polling data, the president could more than quadruple his support among African-Americans in 2020 to as high as 38 percent.

If Trump attains close to that number, he would be the most successful GOP presidential candidate among black voters since Dwight Eisenhower in 1956.

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