Donald Trump’s faceplant in front of a national audience in Flint yesterday has him rewriting history one day later in an effort to shift the narrative of his epic fail. As I wrote yesterday, Trump was four minutes into a five minute and forty-seven second speech when pastor Rev. Faith Green Timmons came up to the podium and interrupted his speech. “Mister Trump,” she said, “I invited you here to thank us for what we’ve done in Flint, not to give a political speech.”
Today, Trump went on Fox and Friends to claim that he was set up by Rev. Timmons:
But something was up because I noticed she was SO nervous when she introduced me… when she got up to introduce me she was so nervous she was shaking and I said, ‘Wow, this is sort of strange.’ And then she came up. So she had that in mind, there’s no question about it.
He went on to tell Fox and Friends hosts that “She was so nervous, she was like a nervous mess, and so I figured something — I figured something was up, really.”
As he finished his short remarks at the Bethel United Methodist Church, audience members peppered him with questions about his history of housing discrimination against African Americans. However, Trump told the Fox News and Friends crew that “The audience was saying, ‘Let him speak, let him speak’.”
Here’s how NPR reporter Scott Detrow, who was in the room when it was happening, described what actually went down:
The Rev. Timmons introduced Trump to the predominantly African-American crowd of about 50 people, and she didn’t appear nervous at all.
Trump began his brief speech with a joke. “It used to be cars were made in Flint, and you couldn’t drink the water in Mexico. Now the cars are made in Mexico, and you can’t drink the water in Flint.”
After that, Trump shifted into a version of his now-standard stump speech, blasting free-trade deals like NAFTA and pointing out that then-President Clinton completed the international trade deal.
As Trump began to criticize his opponent, Hillary Clinton, Timmons slowly walked back onto the stage.
“Mr. Trump, I invited you here to thank us for what we’ve done for Flint, not to give a political speech,” she said.
“Oh, oh, OK, OK, OK. That’s good,” Trump said. “Then I’m going to go back onto Flint, OK.”
“The audience was saying, ‘Let him speak, let him speak,'” Trump told Fox and Friends.
That isn’t true. In fact, several audience members began to heckle Trump, asking pointed questions about whether he racially discriminated against black tenants as a landlord.
And that’s when Timmons — who Trump said Thursday had planned to ambush him — stepped in to defend Trump, saying the Republican nominee was “a guest of my church, and you will respect him.”
“Thank you. Thank you, Pastor,” Trump responded.
The pointed questions for Trump continued as he wrapped up his remarks, though — and that’s the moment when the press traveling with Trump were hastily escorted out of the room.
Rev. Timmons later went on Facebook to say, “Had he stuck to what his camp claimed he came to do we would not have had a problem! – Good night.”
So, after embarrassing himself in front of the national media who made up most of the audience in the church, Trump is now trying to portray himself as a victim of Rev. Timmons, a woman he now says set him up, ambushing him to make him look bad.
The wonderful thing about Donald Trump is that he doesn’t need anyone’s help to look bad.
Progress Michigan Executive Director put it best:
It seems that Donald Trump can’t help himself. Despite numerous attempts by his staff to soften his image, Trump is drawn to attacking average Americans. Donald Trump has disparaged women and people of color throughout his campaign so it’s not surprising that he would attack an African American woman for simply speaking.
Congressman Dan Kildee released this statement:
Donald Trump’s last minute trip to Flint for a photo op was insulting enough. But when he tried to attack Hillary Clinton during a visit to Bethel United Methodist Church, Rev. Faith Green Timmons stood up to his shameful attempt at using the Flint water crisis to make political attacks.
It was in her city, in her church, at her podium, and he was invited there. The fact that he would question her intentions is beyond acceptable. Once again, Donald Trump has proven that he cares only about Donald Trump, and Donald Trump alone.
In related news, thanks to the advocacy of people like Congressman Kildee and Congresswoman Debbie Dingell along with Senators Gary Peters and Debbie Stabenow, the Senate today passed the Water Resources Development Act by a 95-3 margin that has $100 million in funding for water infrastructure in Flint. The bill now goes to the House.
UPDATE: Hillary Clinton responded to Trump’s attack on Rev. Timmons:
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) September 15, 2016
His latest target is a pastor in Flint, Michigan who respectfully asked him not to use her pulpit for political attacks. He called her a “nervous mess”. That’s not only insulting, it’s dead wrong. Reverend Faith Green Timmons is not a nervous mess. She’s a rock for her community in trying times. She deserves better than that and Flint deserves better. And so does America.