Donald Trump's campaign "thought it was going to be a press conference for an endorsement when it wasn't," says Ohio pastor Darrell Scott
Credit: NBC News

Donald Trump thought he was going to win the endorsement of 100 black evangelical pastors on Monday and scheduled a splashy announcement in front of news cameras. But the press conference at Trump Tower was called off after too many of the religious leaders said they had no plans to endorse the GOP front-runner.

“It’s a miscommunication,” said Ohio pastor Darrell Scott, who has helped arrange other recent meetings between Trump and black pastors.

Trump’s campaign “thought it was going to be a press conference for an endorsement when it wasn’t,” Scott said Sunday, according to the Associated Press.

Trump’s campaign spokeswoman, Hope Hicks, told the AP he would still be holding a scheduled private meeting with the group on Monday, but did not respond to additional questions about the canceled press event. Scott estimated that more than 100 preachers will attend the private meeting.

The billionaire businessman speculated about the reason some pastors decided not to endorse him during an appearance on MSNBC’s Morning Joe on Monday.

“I think what happened probably some of the Black Lives Matter folks called them up and said, ‘Oh, you shouldn’t be meeting with Trump because he believes that all lives matter,’ ” he said. “I believe black lives do matter, but I believe all lives matter – very strongly.”

He added of Monday’s planned private meeting, “We’ll see what happens. I don’t know if it’s endorsement, I don’t know if it’s an endorsement by some. I think probably it will be an endorsement by some – I have fantastic relationships with the people. But I do think that pressure was put on them [to not endorse Trump] by people that maybe disagree with certain things.”

Trump’s campaign issued a press release last week for the so-called endorsement event that read: “Mr. Trump will be joined by a coalition of 100 African-American evangelical pastors and religious leaders who will endorse the GOP front-runner after a private meeting at Trump Tower.”

But one of the leaders on the guest list, Brooklyn megachurch pastor Hezekiah Walker, explained in an Instagram post that he only agreed to attend the event so he could enlighten Trump about the “injustice and racism that still plague our communities.”

And 100 other black religious leaders wrote an open letter, published on EBONY magazine’s website on Friday, calling on black clergy members to consider Trump’s “racially inaccurate, insensitive and incendiary rhetoric” before meeting with him.

“By siding with a presidential candidate whose rhetoric pathologizes Black people, what message are you sending to the world about the Black lives in and outside of your congregations? Which Black lives do you claim to be liberating,” they wrote.

Trump came under fire recently for tweeting a graphic with inaccurate statistics about murders in the U.S. that depicted black people as the biggest perpetrators.

He also drew criticism for saying that a Black Lives Matter activist who was physically attacked during a recent Trump campaign rally “should have been roughed up.”