Donald Trump: I'm 'the least racist person'

Donald Trump speaks to black voters at Detroit church
Donald Trump speaks to black voters at Detroit church

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    Donald Trump speaks to black voters at Detroit church

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Donald Trump speaks to black voters at Detroit church 01:23

Story highlights

  • Bishop Wayne T. Jackson conducted an interview with Trump
  • Trump said it's 'automatic' for Republicans to be called racist

Washington (CNN)Donald Trump told a Detroit pastor interview aired Wednesday that he is "the least racist person."

Bishop Wayne T. Jackson interviewed the Republican presidential nominee who has been repeatedly criticized of making racially insensitive comments.
    "I am the least racist person that you have ever met," Trump told the pastor in the interview taped earlier this month and aired on the Impact Network.
    "And you can speak to Don King, who knows me very well. You can speak to so many different people," Trump said, referring to the African-American former boxing promoter.
    But critics have noted Trump has repeatedly engaged in divisive and racist rhetoric since the launch of his campaign.
    "When Mexico sends its people, they're not sending their best ... They're bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists. And some, I assume, are good people," he said when he launched his campaign.
    He also called for a complete ban on Muslim immigration to the US as a means of preventing terrorist violence.
    "Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country's representatives can figure out what is going on," he read from a campaign statement in December.
    Trump also accused the Black Lives Matter movement of instigating the recent killings of police officers.
    "Certainly, in certain instances they are," Trump told Fox News host Bill O'Reilly in July, when he asked whether the group has been "a fuse-lighter in the assassinations of these police officers."
    "They certainly have ignited people and you see that ... It's a very, very serious situation and we just can't let it happen," he added.
    Trump was also sued by the federal government in the 1970s for breaking federal laws and discriminating against communities of color in housing.
    Most recently, Trump has been challenged on the tone and accuracy of his approach to African-American voter outreach.
    "You're living in poverty, your schools are no good, you have no jobs, 58% of your youth is unemployed -- what the hell do you have to lose?" Trump told black voters in a recent campaign speech.
    Jackson also conducted an interview with the GOP nominee earlier this month before hosting Trump at his Detroit church, Great Faith Ministries International. He faced some backlash for inviting Trump given some of his past comments.
    Trump's rival, Hillary Clinton, has repeatedly criticized Trump for racially insensitive comments, recently saying that half of his supporters are a "basket of deplorables" including racists. Clinton later said she regretting saying "half," but maintains that Trump's campaign promotes "bigotry and racist rhetoric."
    Trump dismissed the charge as merely a partisan attack, not one specific to him and his campaign rhetoric.
    "They were calling Romney a racist. They were calling McCain a racist. They call everybody that's a Republican a racist. It's automatic," he told Jackson in the interview. "And all of a sudden it's getting more and more vicious."
    Trump similarly defended himself against charges of being a racist during a December interview with CNN's Don Lemon.
    "I am the least racist person that you have ever met," Trump told Lemon. "I am the least racist person."