Mark Burns, a black pastor and a prominent Donald Trump surrogate, tweeted a picture of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton in blackface Monday, before taking it down and apologizing for it.
In the drawing, Clinton is shown holding an anti-police sign and saying “I ain’t no ways tired of pandering to African-Americans.” She also sports a shirt that reads “No hot sauce no peace!”
Clinton, who has long proclaimed a fondness for spicy foods and hot sauce, drew charges of pandering when she referenced that preference ahead of the New York primary.
“Black Americans, THANK YOU FOR YOUR VOTES and letting me use you again..See you again in 4 years,” Burns tweeted in Clinton’s voice.
Burns, who often introduces Trump at rallies, had also retweeted a Photoshopped image of Hillary Clinton wearing a traditionally African American hairstyle.
Hours later, Burns deleted the tweet and said it was “not at all my intention to offend anyone.”
The controversy came as Trump launched a fresh effort to reach out to African American voters, including a weekend event in Detroit and a sit-down interview with a black evangelical TV network.
“The tweet was not designed to anger or stir up the pot like it did,” Burns said on Periscope, adding that the image was intended to represent his view that the Democratic Party had been “pandering and using black people just for their votes.”
Earlier Monday evening, he defended the blackface drawing. “The picture is designed to draw attention to the very fact that Hillary Clinton does pander to black people,” Burns told MSNBC. “She does pander, and the policies are not good for African Americans.”
Over the past few weeks, Trump has made a special pitch to black voters, focused on crime and economic issues. “Poor Hispanics and African American citizens are the first to lose a job or see a pay cut when we don’t control our borders,” Trump said at an Ohio rally last week. “What do you have to lose? You’ll be able to walk down the street without getting shot. Right now, you walk down the street, you get shot.”
Trump has seen strikingly low support from African American voters, registering in the very low single digits in most swing state polls.