WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump in a speech Monday called Democrats "un-American" and "treasonous" for their reception at the State of the Union, but the commander-in-chief liked one member of the opposing party:
Rep. Al Lawson of Tallahassee.
On the live TV broadcast that night, Lawson could be seen clapping when Trump touted lower unemployment rates for African-Americans. A handful of other Democrats did too, but mostly there was silence.
"Who was that guy? He was a nice guy. I think he was a reverend. And he was clapping," Trump said in Cincinnati. "And I wouldn't say it was exactly a rousing — but he was putting his hands together. And I want to find out who he is. I'm going to send him a letter of thank you. And he was probably severely reprimanded."
Lawson, who is facing a primary challenge from former Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown, said Monday:
"It is great that unemployment is down in the African-American community, a trend that began more than six years ago under President Obama. My applause had nothing to do with President Trump, but about the continued progress that has been made. Unfortunately, the African-American unemployment rate is still significantly higher than the overall unemployment rate for the nation as a whole. In today's challenging economy, too many American workers are still without jobs, and too many families still struggle to make ends meet. Until every person in our country who is willing and able to work is employed, and until every person in this country has access to a sufficient amount of food to eat and affordable housing, until the economic disparities between communities of color and whites are eliminated and until poverty is eradicated, we cannot fully celebrate. The fact remains, we need jobs that pay a wage our families can actually live on so they can send their kids to college, buy a home and save for retirement."
Brown last week filed paperwork to run against Lawson in the Democratic primary, and called Lawson's clapping "deeply troubling"
"While the black jobless rate is at its lowest levels following President Obama's years of hard work, there remains more to be done," Brown said. "Black unemployment remains nearly twice as high as the white jobless rate, as does the black poverty rate, and unlike Rep. Lawson who apparently is content with this alternate reality, I am committed to fighting for economic security and opportunity for all in our community in Congress."