Donald Trump doled out a rare compliment to President Barack Obama on Thursday. In a CNN interview, Trump said he “loved” it when the president began singing at the end of his eulogy for Rev. Clementa Pinckney, who was killed last month in a church shooting in Charleston, South Carolina.
In the interview, Trump spoke about the Charleston shootings, where nine black people were killed by a 21-year-old white man who allegedly wanted to start a race war. Of the eulogy, Trump said, “I thought it was excellent. I’m not a fan of the president; I think he’s hurt us economically. [But] I thought this speech was excellent. And I loved when he started to sing.”
Obama delivered the eulogy for the late Rev. Pinckney last week and received an enthusiastic, though somber, response from the audience. He spoke of racism, the Confederate flag, gun violence and the power of grace before singing lines of the hymn "Amazing Grace."
Trump on Wednesday went on to praise the response from the victims’ families following the attack and said that the compassion and love they showed “was incredible.” He said he did not think that he would have reacted in that manner and said he would have wanted to go after the shooter but “thought it was one of the more beautiful things” he’d seen in his life.
When asked on Wednesday if improving race relations would be a priority in his presidential administration, Trump said: “It would be a very high priority. We have so many places -- whether it's Baltimore or Newark or Cleveland or so many places -- where there is such tension," he said. "And one of the things you have to do is spirit. We have to get more spirit into the country. This country doesn't have spirit. And the other thing you have to do is you have to create jobs.”
Following his presidential announcement two weeks ago, Trump has surged in polls across the country while simultaneously facing down criticism for remarks about immigration. “When do we beat Mexico at the border? They're sending people that have lots of problems, and they're bringing those problems with us. They're bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”
The comments have cost him deals with Univision and Macy's, among others.