Republican front-runner Donald Trump has been called a lot of things in the 2016 election cycle, and now he can add a new one to the list: the white Don King. That was the comparison Rev. Al Sharpton made in an interview published early Friday.
The civil rights leader and MSNBC host expressed amusement at Trump’s antics and weighed in on the 2016 presidential race in an interview with Politico’s “Off Message” podcast.
“The best way I can describe Donald Trump to friends is to say if Don King had been born white he’d be Donald Trump,” Sharpton said on the podcast. “Both of them are great self-promoters and great at just continuing to talk even if you’re not talking back at them.”
King, the famous and controversial boxing promoter, managed some of the most prominent names in the sport over the course of his career and has been sued by many of the fighters he promoted for allegedly defrauding them. Like Trump, he is known for his brash comments and has a history with the New York billionaire as well as Sharpton.
During his interview, Sharpton told Politico that King introduced him to Trump when the businessman was starting to open hotels in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
“Don King had me fly with him and Trump to Atlantic in Trump’s helicopter, and it was one of the most memorable things in my life to sit on that big, black Trump helicopter … both of them talking nonstop, not listening to each other,” Sharpton said. “And I'm sitting there. It was probably the longest ride … I ever was on. Both of them shut me up — I haven't been quiet since.”
This is not the first time Sharpton has made this comparison. In January, he put Trump and King in the same category when talking to the editorial board of the New York Daily News. But in the podcast, Sharpton seemed to express a kind of kinship with Trump, describing how he saw the businessman as an outsider because of his origins in Queens, New York.
In recent years, Sharpton has used his star power to wield political influence and is said to be deciding between the Democratic presidential candidates, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. Sharpton backed President Barack Obama during his White House bid in 2008 and maintains close ties to the president. But while he will likely endorse a candidate in the Democratic primary in the near future, Sharpton said he does not dislike Trump.
“I think what he has said has been biased and bigoted, but I don’t know if Donald Trump is really a bigoted guy,” Sharpton said, referring to the candidate’s comments about Muslims and Mexicans, which have been widely criticized by political leaders.
“I mean, I don’t like what he’s doing. But I don’t dislike him. He’s the kind of personality that is hard to dislike — he’s entertaining, let's put it that way … You’d have to be a New Yorker to understand him,” Sharpton said.