Donald Trump supposedly had a game plan going into Tuesday night’s debate, including using a Black woman in the audience as a prop, but — in classic form — he failed to execute it miserably when he instead resorted to racist antics in between his frequent lies and interruptions of Joe Biden.
The president’s handlers who helped prepare him for the first presidential debate expressed concerns to NBC News about how easily Trump veered from his reported intention to bring attention to Alice Johnson, the grandmother who was granted clemency by the president in 2018 after serving more than 20 years in prison for a first-time, non-violent drug offense. Johnson, 65, was supposed to be used by Trump in that moment to highlight the president’s purported strides in criminal justice reform as a way to stand in stark contrast to the strict and consequential 1994 crime bill that Biden supported
NBC News reported that Trump planned to use that moment “to point to Alice Johnson in the audience and demand that Biden apologize.”
Had that plan been executed, it would have been reminiscent of last year during Michael Cohen‘s testimony before the House Committee on Oversight and Reform when then-U.S. Rep. Mark Meadows used Lynne Patton, a Black HUD official known more for her sunglasses and planning parties for Eric Trump, to unsuccessfully prove Trump could not possibly be racist.
Johnson notably spoke at the Republican National Convention in August and was a guest at Trump’s State of the Union address last year.
But as irony would have it, the president more than proved [again] that he was a card-carrying racist when he refused to denounce white supremacy and violent militia groups like the Proud Boys when he was offered the chance to do so during the debate Tuesday night.
“Proud Boys, stand back and stand by!” Trump said during the debate. “But I’ll tell you what, somebody’s got to do something about Antifa and the left.”
It was at once a declaration of his allegiance to anti-Black racism and an apparent threat of violence against his opponents on “the left.”
Funny enough, Trump also had another “Black plan” during the debate that he never used even though he had ample opportunity to.
Folks who helped prepare Trump fr the debate said he “was supposed to go after Biden as ‘the godfather of turning Supreme Court confirmation hearings into sideshows'” when the topic turned to filling Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg‘s now-vacant seat. Biden has been criticized for his treatment of Anita Hill, who accused Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment during his confirmation hearing in 1991.
Had Trump followed through with his plan, he could have also brought attention to Biden’s refusal to apologize to Hill last year when given the chance.
Instead, Trump and his notoriously iffy — and racist — temperament decided that personal attacks, like mocking drug use by Biden’s son, and frequent interruptions to keep his opponent from speaking, was the right strategy.
Election Day is Nov. 3.