Donald Trump would like you to believe that he has done more for the Black community in America than anyone except for Abraham Lincoln — but, to clarify, he is not actually Abraham Lincoln.
During the final presidential debate in Nashville, Tennessee, on Thursday, the president apparently got tripped up by a joke made by his Democratic opponent, Joe Biden. In a section discussing race in America and how Black families have to give “the talk” to their children about interactions with the police, President Trump started off with what is often his typical defense. He pointed to Biden’s role in the 1994 crime bill, touted his own record on race, and claimed he’s the biggest gift to Black people in America since Lincoln.
“Nobody has done more for the black community than Donald Trump. And if you look, with the exception of Abraham Lincoln,” he said, before adding, “I’m the least racist person in this room.”
When Biden was asked to respond, he began with an obvious joke and a hit: “Abraham Lincoln here is one of the most racist presidents we’ve had in modern history.”
Except Trump didn’t get the joke. After Biden finished his response, Trump said, “You made a reference to ‘Abraham Lincoln here.’ Where did that come in?”
No, Trump hasn’t been the best president for Black America since Lincoln
“You said you’re Abraham Lincoln,” Biden said, again, continuing the joke.
“No, no, I said not since Abraham Lincoln has anybody done what I’ve done for the Black community. I didn’t say I’m Abraham Lincoln,” Trump said.
In case you are confused: Donald Trump is not Abraham Lincoln, the 16th president of the United States who died on April 15, 1865.
There are a couple of things going on here. For one thing, Trump is, indeed, not the best thing to happen to Black America since Lincoln. Per my colleague at Vox, Fabiola Cineas:
But beyond that, the president is weird at jokes. He can be and often is funny on the campaign trail — in a way that his critics, so emphatic about catching him in some sort of pickle, sometimes fail to understand. But in this case, it was Trump who wasn’t in on the joke. He often plays the role of the insult comic — Crooked Hillary, Sleepy Joe, Crazy Bernie — and on Thursday, he missed the subtle wink aimed at him. And so, he was left explaining that he is aware he is not a person who has been dead for 150 years.
Will you help keep Vox free for all?
The United States is in the middle of one of the most consequential presidential elections of our lifetimes. It’s essential that all Americans are able to access clear, concise information on what the outcome of the election could mean for their lives, and the lives of their families and communities. That is our mission at Vox. But our distinctive brand of explanatory journalism takes resources. Even when the economy and the news advertising market recovers, your support will be a critical part of sustaining our resource-intensive work. If you have already contributed, thank you. If you haven’t, please consider helping everyone understand this presidential election: Contribute today from as little as $3.