Donald Trump, who has faced repeated accusations of racism and xenophobia over race-tinged comments and inflammatory rhetoric, drew more criticism after praising a black supporter as “my African American.”
“Oh, look at my African American over here. Look at him,” Trump said during a rally in California. “Are you the greatest?”
There was no obvious reaction from the crowd, and Trump campaign spokesperson Hope Hicks said the presumptive Republican White House nominee was “just referring to a supporter in the crowd. There’s no ill will intended, obviously.”
Trump was “grateful for this person’s support,” she added, speaking to CNN.
Hicks also rejected as “ridiculous” criticism that in using the possessive “my,” Trump was making a racist comment.
Some media commentators disagreed, and “African American” was a trending term Friday night on Twitter.
“‘He’s a Mexican’ yesterday, ‘look at my African-American’ today. If you think Trumps not racist you live in an alternate reality void of logic,” user @el_turko13 said.
The fallout comes amid growing uproar over Trump’s disparaging remarks about the judge handling a pair of lawsuits over his defunct online university, with the candidate saying Gonzalo Curiel’s Mexican heritage makes him biased.
The developer and reality television host has energised supporters and enraged many others with his calls for building a wall on the US-Mexican border and alleging that Mexico sends “rapists” and other criminals to the United States.
He has also called for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.”