Trump: Former President Donald Trump suggested Friday that his criminal indictments and mug shot appeal to Black voters and claimed that “what’s happening to (him) happens to them.”

“I got indicted for nothing, for something that is nothing. They were doing it because it’s election interference and then I got indicted a second time, and a third time and a fourth time. And a lot of people said that that’s why the Black people like me because they have been hurt so badly and discriminated against, and they actually viewed me as I’m being discriminated against,” Trump, who faces 91 criminal charges across the cases, told a gathering of Black conservatives in Columbia, South Carolina, on the eve of the first-in-the-South Republican primary there.

Black conservatives, Trump told the crowd gathered for the gala hosted by the Black Conservative Federation, “understand better than most that some of the greatest evils in our nation’s history have come from corrupt systems that try to target and subjugate others to deny them their freedom and to deny them their rights. You understand that. I think that’s why the Black people are so much on my side now because they see what’s happening to me happens to them.”

The GOP front-runner also claimed that Black Americans have “embraced” his mug shot more than anyone else.

“The mug shot, we’ve all seen the mug shot, and you know who embraced it more than anybody else? The Black population. It’s incredible. You see Black people walking around with my mug shot, you know they do shirts,” he said.

The campaign manager for Nikki Haley, the onetime South Carolina governor and the last remaining major rival to Trump in the GOP presidential primary, said later Friday that the former president’s indictment remark shows why Americans do not “want a Trump-Biden rematch” in November.

“This is just more of the same chaos, more of the same drama, more of the same baggage,” Betsy Ankney said during an interview with CNN’s Laura Coates.

Haley has vowed to stay in the race past the South Carolina primary and through Super Tuesday on March 5, but Trump has won every delegate contest so far and holds a wide lead over Haley in pre-primary polling in her own home state.

Trump, who has a history of using racist language, railed during his remarks against President Joe Biden, his likely general election rival, accusing him of being a “vicious racist.”

He attacked Biden over the 1994 crime bill – which Biden has repeatedly defended his role in but has also pointed to mistakes in the legislation – and over comments the president made in which he recalled working with segregationist senators.

On top of everything else, Joe Biden really has proven to be a very nasty and vicious racist. He’s been a racist,” Trump said.

Biden said in July 2020 that Trump, who has on multiple occasions used racist dog whistles to attack his political rivals, was the first racist to win the presidency. Earlier this week, the president referenced having served with segregationist senators, while saying Republicans in Congress are “worse” than Strom Thurmond, a former South Carolina senator who ran for president as a segregationist in 1948.

Trump at one point Friday appeared to make a joke about only seeing the Black people in the dark room where the gala was being held.

“These lights are so bright in my eyes that I can’t see too many people out there. But I can only see the Black ones, I can’t see any White ones, you see, that’s how far I’ve come. That’s how far I’ve come. That’s a long way, isn’t it? These lights. We’ve come a long way together,” he said as the crowd laughed.

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