Trump surrogate Mark Burns defended his tweet of Clinton in blackface
Burns tweeted in Clinton's voice, accusing her of pandering for African-American votes
A prominent African-American pastor who supports Donald Trump apologized Tuesday for a tweet featuring a cartoon of Hillary Clinton in blackface, but said he stood by the message he was trying to convey that Democrats take black voters for granted.
“I prayed that those who I offended really receive … a sincere apology, because it was never my intention to hurt or to offend anyone,” Pastor Mark Burns told CNN’s Alisyn Camerota on “New Day.”
“But the message is very clear in what I was trying to say. Obviously, my message, I stand by it, but the methodology, I do not.”
Burns had set off the controversy on Monday afternoon, when he sent the offending tweet: “Black Americans, THANK YOU FOR YOUR VOTES and letting me use you again..See you again in 4 years,” he tweeted in the voice of Clinton – along with a cartoon depicting her poorly pandering to African-American voters.
On “New Day,” Burns repeatedly apologized while defending the sentiment behind the tweet.
“The message is simply this: I believe that the Democratic Party has been using the black vote, that black voting bloc, and because the Democratic Party already knows they own that voting block, the promises made to the African-American community are not being carried out.”
“As I said, I really think, you know, in hindsight, my methodology – if I could do it all over again, there are so many different creative ways of getting my message out there to the public,” Burns said. “For me, the blackface wasn’t the focal point of the picture. It was showing how Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party panders after the black vote.
Burns also said he hadn’t spoken directly to Trump about the incident, and stressed that he regretted creating a distraction. And Burns, who is scheduled to appear at an event aimed at black voter outreach with Trump in Detroit on Saturday, said the “last thing I want to do is draw attention away from Mr. Trump’s policy and our historic upcoming event.”
The cartoon at the center of the controversy features Clinton holding an anti-police sign – a criticism of her stance on the spate of African-Americans’ deaths that have involved police force.
In it, she is also wearing a shirt that says, “No hot sauce no peace!” It’s a reference to Clinton – a well-known spicy food lover – saying on the hip-hop show “The Breakfast Club” in April, ahead of the New York primary, that she always carries hot sauce with her.
The cartoon also depicts Clinton as saying, “I ain’t no ways tired of pandering to African-Americans.”
Clinton’s campaign didn’t immediately respond to CNN’s request for a comment.
On Monday, Burns had defended himself in an interview on MSNBC before later apologizing for the tweet in a Periscope livestream that evening.
“The picture is designed to draw attention to the very fact that Hillary Clinton does pander to black people,” Burns said. “She does pander and the policies are not good for African-Americans. It’s doing exactly what it’s designed to do. We’re not playing the political PC game to make you feel good.”
Burns had told MSNBC Monday that he was “speaking as a black man.”
“The thing is this: This is why we live in a PC environment where you think one person speaks for all. I’m a completely separate individual. I am not Donald Trump. I am Mark Burns,” he said.
“I am a black man, I am speaking from the perspective of a black American man who lives in a society where we are at the bottom of the totem pole and yet we are still voting en masse for the same policies that are keeping us here,” Burns said.
Clinton has a long history of activism for racial equality, dating back to the civil rights movement, where prominent leaders such as Rep. John Lewis, D-Georgia, said they met both Hillary and Bill Clinton.
She’s discussed systemic racial inequality on the campaign trail, campaigning at times with a group of the mothers of young African-Americans killed by police.
She’s also had major support from key African-American politicians.
“I learned a long time ago that Hillary Clinton is a fighter and that’s what we need in our next president,” Rep. Jim Clyburn of South Carolina, the highest-ranking African-American in Congress, said at Allen University in Columbia in February, helping Clinton ahead of the Nevada and South Carolina contests against Bernie Sanders.
Burns also addressed the controversy on Twitter: “It was not at all my intention to offend anyone.”
“The tweet was not designed to anger or stir up the pot like it did. It was designed to bring how I feel a very real reality as to why the Democratic Party, and how I view it and have interpreted it, have been pandering and using black people just for their votes,” he wrote.
CNN’s Naomi Lim and Daniella Diaz contributed to this report.