In a wild press conference on Tuesday, President Donald Trump said that his economic agenda will help to heal the racial divide in the US.
The press conference was nominally an opportunity for Trump to speak about his push to deregulate the building of infrastructure, but the topic quickly changed to Trump’s response to the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia over the weekend.
One reporter asked Trump midway through the press conference if Trump believed race relations had improved or worsened since the president took office in January.
“I think they have gotten better or the same,” Trump said. “And look, I think they have been frayed for a long time and you can ask President Obama about that because he made speeches about that.”
Trump then pivoted and said that the economic improvement since he took office is a key factor in improving race relations.
“I believe that the fact that I brought in, pretty soon, million of jobs — you see companies moving back into our country — I believe that’s going to have a tremendous positive impact on race relations,” Trump said.
“We have companies, I’ll say pouring back into our country, and I think that’s going to have a huge positive impact on race relations. You know why? It’s jobs,” Trump continued. “What people want is jobs, they want great jobs with good pay and you watch how race relations will be.”
The pace of job gains over the first seven months of Trump’s presidency was lower than during the first seven months of 2016. Additionally, most economic indicators show the economy growing at roughly the same pace as prior to Trump taking office.
Trump also touted the fact that his administration is spending “a lot of money on inner cities” and he is doing “far more than anybody has ever done in respect to the inner cities.”
In the same press conference, Trump defended his statement about Charlottesville on Saturday in which he did not explicitly denounce the white nationalists that led the protests; attacked what he called the “alt-left,” or the counter-protestors that showed up to speak out against the white nationalists; and suggested that removing monuments to Confederate general Robert E. Lee was equivalent to taking down statues of George Washington.
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