Clinton, Trump navigate politics of police violence

Story highlights

  • Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump pointed to different problems behind two police shootings
  • Clinton and Trump are both courting African-American voters

(CNN)Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump offered vastly different proposals Wednesday to change police practices following fatal shootings of African-American men in Oklahoma and North Carolina.

When asked how he would stop violence in the black community, Trump said he would take the controversial stop-and-frisk practice nationwide.
    "I think you have to," the Republican nominee said at a town hall with Fox News host and Trump supporter Sean Hannity. "We did it in New York, it worked incredibly well and you have to be proactive and, you know, you really help people sort of change their mind automatically."
    Civil liberties groups have blasted the practice as targeting minorities and some investigators have questioned its effectiveness.
    Meanwhile, Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook said the Democratic nominee plans to develop national standards for police intended to "prevent situations like this."
    Speaking on CNN's "New Day," Mook said Clinton wants to "restore bonds between communities and law enforcement." That, he said, would involve "investing in community policing and making sure that local police have the resources to build the relationships in the community to prevent something like this from happening."
    The candidates -- just days away from their first in-person clash on the debate stage -- were also far apart on the underlying causes of the shootings. Clinton connected police shootings to "systemic racism" while Trump suggested the officer in Oklahoma "choked."

    Comments carry weight

    This is not the first time Trump or Clinton have addressed police shootings during this lengthy campaign season. But as the race nears its conclusion in less than two months, their comments carry even more weight. And the stakes are especially high since one of the shootings occurred in North Carolina, a critical swing state with a sizable African-American population that both campaigns are working hard to reach.
    Trump and Clinton hit the campaign trail following an evening of protests and occasional violence in Charlotte after police killed Keith Lamont Scott in an apartment complex parking lot as officers looked for another man named in a warrant they were trying to serve. That followed the fatal shooting of Terence Crutcher in Tulsa, Oklahoma, last week after his car was found abandoned in the middle of the road.
    Clinton addressed the shootings in a speech in Orlando, Florida, on Wednesday afternoon.
    "There is still much we don't know yet about what happened in both incidents. But we do know that we have two more names to add to a list of African-Americans killed by police officers in these encounters," Clinton said. "It's unbearable. And it needs to become intolerable."
    She said she's spoken with law enforcement leaders "who are as deeply concerned as I am, and as deeply committed as I am to reform." And, she said, she's spoken with mothers whose children have been killed, "and young people who feel that, as far as their country's concerned, their lives seem disposable."
    "We've got to do better. And I know we can. And if I'm elected president, we will. And we will do it exactly together, which is the only way it can be done," Clinton said.
    Trump tweeted calls for unity following the violence in Charlotte. His comment during the Fox town hall that the female officer involved in the Tulsa shooting might have "choked" was notable considering he typically emphasizes support for law enforcement officers.
    But Trump said he'd seen the widely circulated video of the incident in Tulsa. "That man went to the car, hands up -- put his hands on the car," Trump said. "To me it looked like he did everything you're supposed to do. And he looked like a really good man."

    Christie vs. Clinton

    Meanwhile, one of Trump's top supporters -- New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie -- lambasted Clinton for her response on conservative talk radio host Laura Ingraham's show.
    In a radio interview Tuesday, Clinton had cited the need to address "systemic racism" and "implicit bias" in police forces -- while praising "honorable, cool-headed police officers."
    Christie labeled those remarks a "disgrace" Wednesday.
    "She's a disgrace. She's a disgrace and those comments are a disgrace," Christie said Wednesday on "The Laura Ingraham Show." "It's typical of Hillary Clinton. She knows nothing but the mouth never stops."
    Trump, however, has also displayed a tendency to speak about events before all the facts are made clear. He notably called the explosion in New York City over the weekend a "bomb" 30 minutes after the incident, despite a lack of official confirmation.

    African-American outreach

    The shootings come as Trump and Clinton confront unique challenges with African-American voters.
    Clinton's weakness is among millennial voters across the board -- many of whom have told pollsters they are gravitating toward Libertarian Gary Johnson and Green Party nominee Jill Stein.
    Trump, meanwhile, is attempting to chip into Clinton's commanding lead among African-American voters overall while also appealing to white voters who tend to support the GOP but have been turned off by his rhetoric.
    That effort hit turbulence Wednesday when Trump campaigned alongside long-time boxing promoter Don King Wednesday in Ohio. King, who is black, used the N-word while introducing Trump, arguing that African-Americans cannot achieve success while emulating whites because they will remain "negroes."
    "If you're poor, you are a poor negro -- I would use the n-word -- but if you're rich, you are a rich negro. If you are intelligent, intellectual, you are intellectual negro. If you are a dancing and sliding and gliding n***** -- I mean negro -- you are a dancing and sliding and gliding negro," King said, laughing along with the crowd after the slip-up. "You're going to be a negro 'til you die."
    Trump also caused controversy Tuesday night when he told a nearly all-white crowd in North Carolina that "we're going to rebuild our inner cities because our African-American communities are absolutely in the worst shape that they've ever been in before. Ever. Ever. Ever."
    His remark -- ignoring the nation's deeply flawed history of slavery, Jim Crow laws, segregation and more -- drew a stern rebuke Wednesday from Rep. John Lewis, a Georgia Democrat and hero of the civil rights movement.
    "Is he saying that the conditions are worse than slavery? Is he saying that the conditions are worse than the signs that I that saw when I was growing up that said 'white men,' 'colored men,' 'white women,' 'colored women?'" Lewis said. "Where is he coming from?"