By David Skolnick
Katrina Pierson, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s national campaign spokeswoman, said the candidate “doesn’t change his mind. He just expands his policies.”
In an exclusive interview Saturday with The Vindicator, Pierson said, “I can understand why that’s perceived as changing minds in the political world, but at the same time, he’s been the same the entire time. He’s just expanding his policies.”
Pierson was at a voter- outreach event at Nevels Temple Church of God in Christ on Elm Street in Youngs-town. About 20 Trump supporters listened to her and others before canvassing around Wick Park on the city’s North Side in support of Trump and Corrine L. Sanderson. Sanderson, a Youngstown school board member running as a Republican for the 58th Ohio House District seat, told The Vindicator that she wasn’t committed to voting for Trump in the general election.
On Friday, Trump finally acknowledged that President Barack Obama was born in the United States after five years of being a prominent promoter of the “birther movement” that insists the president isn’t an American citizen. But Trump didn’t apologize for the false statement.
Trump also claims that Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and her campaign started the movement. There is no evidence to back that statement.
Pierson said the birther issue became so prominent in recent days because “Mr. Trump is rising in the polls with African-Americans” and “this was just a way the Clinton campaign and the media that supports her are trying to draw down that support.”
She repeated Trump’s claim that “this came out of Hillary Clinton’s campaign” in 2008, when she lost the Democratic presidential nomination to Obama.
She specifically pointed to a McClatchy news article that two Clinton supporters – a fired volunteer in Iowa and Sidney Blumenthal, a former Clinton confidant – pushed the false contention. The same article said there is no evidence Clinton or her campaign spread the story, and Blumenthal has denied saying it.
As for Blumenthal, Pierson said Saturday: “However, you interpret him being a part of the campaign or her supporter or volunteer.” Also, “that it came directly from him is very representative of Mrs. Clinton herself.”
When told Clinton or her campaign never said it, Pierson said, “In politics, sometimes politicians don’t say things. They have their, as McClatchy would put it, minions or whoever even” say it. The McClatchy article doesn’t describe anyone like that in the article.
Pierson also said, “If this was being done on behalf of Hillary Clinton, he was her top aide, then I guess you can say it did come from her.” Blumenthal was a senior adviser to Clinton in the 2008 campaign.
Pierson repeatedly criticized the media for distorting what Trump says – even though nearly all of his speeches are broadcast live – including not refuting white supremacists who back his candidacy.
Pierson claims polls have Trump with 8 percent to 9 percent support from African-Americans, which, she said, is more than what U.S. Sen. John McCain of Arizona and ex-Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, the 2008 and 2012 GOP presidential nominees, respectively, received combined.
That’s not accurate, however.
McCain received 4 percent of the black vote in 2008 and Romney got 6 percent in 2012, according to the Roper Center for Public Opinion Research at Cornell University and other organizations.
Also, recent polls by The Washington Post/ABC have Trump with the support of 3 percent of African-American voters, and The New York Times/CBS News has him with 6 percent support among black voters. It was only a month ago that a poll had Trump with 1 percent of the black vote.
Polls show a tight race both nationally and in the swing state of Ohio for the presidency.
“I don’t want him to just win,” Pierson told the crowd inside the church. “I want him to blow it out of the water. So big [that] I don’t care how much voter fraud occurs, it won’t matter.”
In response, David Betras, chairman of the Mahoning County Democratic Party said: “Donald Trump has spent the majority of his adult life cheating. He cheated working people out of jobs that he sent overseas, cheated small businesses and contractors out of the money he owed them for building his hotels, cheated families out of their savings with his fraudulent university, cheated veterans charities out of the money he raised in their name and never donated, and cheated African-Americans by refusing to let them rent apartments in his buildings.”
Tracey Winbush, the county’s Republican Party chairwoman, said she personally paid the church for the event, and that the church was not associated with the gathering.
The event was to drum up support for Trump and Sanderson. Sanderson said she spoke last week with a Trump campaign official about her concerns about the candidate’s positions on minority issues, particularly employment.
“I believe the reason the Trump campaign has come here is Trump is still in the process of earning the trust of minorities and their votes and my vote,” Sanderson said. “He’s still in the process of earning my vote.”