Democratic media mogul Bob Johnson told CNBC on Monday (Nov. 21) that fellow African-Americans should give Donald Trump “the benefit of the doubt,” and hope common ground can be reached with the incoming Republican administration about issues facing the black community.
The BET founder — who met with Trump on Sunday (Nov. 20) at the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey — described the sit-down as a “great chat” about “business solutions to social problems. “During the campaign, Trump made the case to African-American voters that Democrats let them down, and argued repeatedly “what do you have to lose” by voting for him.
Johnson, who had supported Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, said he told Trump over the weekend, “The real question you should be asking is what do African-Americans have to gain from your presidency.”
“Trump is a business guy, and I think he’s going to tilt towards finding [a] way to use fiscal policy … to move the economy forward,” he said. “Let’s give him a shot. Let’s give him the benefit of the doubt; see if we can find common ground.”
“That’s what’s best for African-Americans,” Johnson added.
To make his case, Johnson, founder and chairman of The RLJ Cos., quoted founding Congressional Black Caucus member Rep. Bill Clay Sr., a Missouri Democrat who served more than three decades in the House.
Paraphrasing Clay, Johnson said, “Black Americans should have no permanent friends, and no permanent enemies, just permanent interests.”
“That’s where African-American voters should be,” Johnson contended, saying he does not view Trump and the Republicans as enemies or friends. African-Americans have “permanent interests,” he said.
Johnson said the country needs a leader, “not somebody who’s going to sort of choose sides,” and he hopes Trump fits the bill.
As for whether his meeting with Trump might mean an administration job, Johnson said unequivocally, no. He joked about the odds being “subzero,” adding he “never worked for the government … and never wanted to work for the government.”