Donald Trump announced a last minute plan to visit Flint, Michigan today. The mayor was in Washington working to get congress to pass a funding bill to help with their lead contaminating water pipes. She informed him she wouldn't be there and said that his request to tour a water plant couldn't be accommodated on such short notice.
Somehow he arranged to speak to about 50 people gathered in an African-America church in Flint, which has been a been a center for distributing water and aid during the crisis. After some short remarks praising the members for their helping response, Trump launched into his stump speech blasting Hillary Clinton for supporting trade agreements that hurt jobs in Michigan.
The church minister, Rev. Faith Green Timmons, walked out on the stage and interrupted to remind him that "I invited you here to thank us for what we've done in Flint, not to give a political speech." He quickly changed course -- but, typically, did not apologize.
Trump's mistakes trying to court black voters are so blatant, so repeatedly wrong-footed, that you can't escape the fact that he has nothing inside to guide him in trying to relate. I don't think it's even working for his real purpose: to reassure the white, educated, wavering Republicans that he's not racist. Maybe he's not, but his inability to relate to black people in their culture just oozes out of him at every pore.
Let's hope the debate moderators take a lesson from Rev. Timmons; yes, you can just step in and stop Trump from doing what he's trying to get away with.