Donald Trump hits back at Jay-Z over race record even as aides promise a more conciliatory tone in State of the Union address

August 3, 2020 0 By JohnValbyNation

Donald Trump fired off a Twitter salvo against the rapper Jay-Z on Sunday, hitting back angrily at allegations of racism just two days before aides said America would hear a more conciliatory tone and a unifying message in the president’s first State of the Union speech.

Officials spent the weekend briefing that the president would use the formal occasion on Tuesday to set aside his combative stance in favour of appealing beyond his base.

But he could not resist rising to the bait after the hip hop star rubbished suggestions that Mr Trump’s rule had been good for black America and disparaged the president as a “superbug”.

“Somebody please inform Jay-Z that because of my policies, Black Unemployment has just been reported to be at the LOWEST RATE EVER RECORDED!,” he responded on Twitter in typically bombastic fashion.

Online fact checkers were quick to say Mr Trump was correct – federal government statistics show African-American unemployment stood at 6.8% in December 2017, making it the lowest since records began – but that the numbers were the result of years of decline that had accelerated under his predecessor Barack Obama.

The flare-up risks intensifying scrutiny of Mr Trump’s record on race, restarting an ugly controversy that began when Mr Trump reportedly described Haiti African countries as “s***holes”.

Jay-Z was asked about the row by Van Jones on his CNN show at the weekend. The rapper said the president’s comments were "disappointing" and "hurtful”.

“You don’t take the trash out, you keep spraying whatever over it to make it acceptable,” he said, explaining that racism had hidden underground. “As those things grow, you create a superbug. And then now we have Donald Trump, the superbug.”

He said reduced unemployment among African-Americans did not make up for the president’s attitude.

“No, because it’s not about money at the end of the day … money doesn’t equate to happiness,” he said.

Once again Mr Trump’s fondness for delivering Twitter punches risks distracting from the efforts of his staff to reset a presidency plagued by hyper-partisan politics, poor poll numbers and the Russia investigation.

Mr Trump delivered a well-received speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos on Friday and aides say he will continue with a pragmatic, upbeat, forward-looking message when he makes his first State of the Union address on Tuesday.

Donald Trump approval rating tracker

The theme will be "Building a safe, strong and proud America”, and briefers say he will look to set aside confrontation in favour of compromise.

“I’d say to Congress the tone will be one of bipartisanship,” an administration official told reporters.

Mr Trump is expected to return to his argument that all Americans have benefited from his programme of deregulation and a broad tax overhaul, which have energised the economy.

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This will be Mr Trump’s first State of the Union address. It offers a prime-time window to speak directly to millions of voters and set the tone for the year ahead.

The stakes are even higher for a uniquely divisive president whose approval ratings reach as low as 37% according to some polls.

Jennifer Palmieri, former communications director for Mr Obama, said: “The most capable White Houses use the State of the Union as an organising moment to set the agenda for the whole year…

“I don’t think this White House is capable of that kind of discipline. So even if he gives a good speech, it is unlikely to have any staying power and transcend his broader problems of not being able to drive a coherent agenda or generate support for himself beyond his core supporters.”