When Donald Trump called out a black man at a Redding, Calif., rally Friday as "my African American,” he had no way of knowing that the person in question, Gregory Cheadle, was not a supporter of his.
According to NPR, Cheadle, a Republican candidate to represent California’s 1st Congressional District, said that during the rally, he had been holding a sign that read “Veterans for Trump” to shield his head from the sun, and added that he was not a supporter of the presumptive GOP presidential candidate.
“I am not a Trump supporter,” Cheadle said in a Sunday interview. “I went to go hear Donald Trump because I have an open mind.”
However, while many are criticizing and blasting Trump’s possessive use of “my,” calling it tone-deaf at best, Cheadle said that he saw the interaction as positive.
“I was not offended by it because he had been speaking positively about black people prior to that statement,” Cheadle said. “People around me were laughing [at the fact] that he noticed me, and everybody was happy. It was a jovial thing.”
“Oh, look at my African American over here!” Trump said in the middle of his speech Friday. “Look at him. Are you the greatest? You know what I’m talking about, OK?”
“I never, ever sensed any racism on his part,” Cheadle told CBS News in a Saturday interview. “Looking at it now, I can see on a script—in a transcript, or even somebody watching the clip—I can see how they would jump to the conclusion that it was racist. But I never felt anything at all.”
“We are a supersensitive people now when it comes to race,” he added, commenting on the internet backlash on Trump’s words. “I mean, supersensitive. And we’re so ready to pull that racist trigger, and sometimes unnecessarily so.”
“Had he said, ‘Here’s my African-American friend’ or ‘my African-American supporter’ or something like that, then there would be less ambiguity,” Cheadle told NPR. “Had he said, ‘Here’s my African American’ and then after that said, ‘What’s up, dawg?’ Or ‘boy’ or even the n-word as they use it today, I really would have been offended.”
Instead, Cheadle saw Trump’s comment as flattering.
“It’s a compliment to me,” he added in the CBS interview.
Nonetheless, Cheadle said he wants to make it clear that Trump still has not yet gotten his vote.
“I wanted to see for myself who he was,” he told CBS. “I just wanted to hear him. Did he sway my vote one way or the other? No. What he did do was he did inspire me.”