REDDING, Calif. -- Donald Trump continued making incendiary comments about race on Friday, saying in an interview that an American-born federal judge's judgment is clouded because "he's a Mexican" and singling out an African-American man attending one of his rallies, calling him "my African American."
In an interview with CNN's Jake Tapper that aired on Friday, Trump doubled down on his racially charged accusations against U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel, who is handling two class-action lawsuits against Trump University in San Diego. Curiel was born in Indiana but his parents are from Mexico, which Trump has repeatedly said keeps Curiel from rendering unbiased decisions.
"If you are saying: He can't do his job because of his race, is that not the definition of racism?" Tapper asked, according to a clip on CNN's website.
"No," Trump responded. "I don't think so at all."
"No?" Tapper said.
"No, he's proud of his heritage," Trump said. "I respect him for that."
"But you're saying he can't do his job because of it," Tapper said.
"Look, he's proud of his heritage, okay?" Trump said. "I'm building a wall. Now, I think I'm going to do very well with Hispanics."
Tapper cut in: "He's a legal citizen."
Trump explained that he will win the votes of Hispanics during the general election because he's going to create jobs.
"But we're building a wall," Trump said. "He's a Mexican. We're building a wall between here and Mexico."
Trump continued: "The answer is: He is giving us very unfair rulings, rulings that people can't even believe. This case should have ended years ago on summary judgement. The best lawyers -- I have spoken to so many lawyers, they said: This is not a case. This is a case that should have ended. This judge is giving us unfair rulings. Now, I say: Why? Well, I'm building a wall, okay? And it's a wall between Mexico, not another country."
"But he's not from Mexico," Tapper said. "He's from Indiana."
"He's of Mexican heritage," Trump said, "and he's very proud of it."
Later in the day at a campaign rally in an airplane hangar in northern California, Trump commented on the "thugs" who protested at his rally the night before in San Jose, attacking several of his supporters, and began to fondly tell the story of an African-American supporter who punched a protester. He then paused mid-sentence to single out a black man in the audience before him.
"Oh, look at my African American over here -- look at him," Trump said as he pointed. "Are you the greatest? Do you know what I'm talking about?"
He then resumed telling the story about the other black man at a different rally: "Okay, so we have an African-American guy at one of the rallies a month ago. And he's sitting there, behaving. And we had protesters inside the arena and they were dressed in a Ku Klux Klan outfit. Okay?"
Trump said that his crowd booed these protesters and their costumes started falling apart.
"This African American gets up and, man, he slugged these guys," Trump said, as the crowd cheered. "He slugged 'em... So when the African American cold-cocked this guy, this guy never knew what happened. Everybody thought the African American was against me and it was the opposite. He was like this great guy, military guy."
Trump said that the "sleazy people" in media tried to make it look like "the white guy was on my side" when really it was the African-American guy who supported him. And just as Trump pledged earlier in the day to win over Hispanic voters with the promise of jobs, he vowed to do the same for black voters.
"We have tremendous African-American support," Trump said. "The reason is: I'm going to bring jobs back to our country. We're going to bring jobs back."
Sullivan reported from Redding. Johnson reported from Washington.