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In A Change Of Tone, Trump Reaches Out To Black And Hispanic Voters

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Donald Trump says he won't change. But this week, he may have tried to reach out in new directions by addressing messages to African-American and Hispanic voters. He accuses Democrats of taking their votes for granted. He met at Trump Tower with a group of black and Hispanic Republican leaders. Pastor Mark Burns was there. Pastor Burns is founder and CEO of NOW, a Christian broadcaster based in South Carolina. And he's been a supporter of Donald Trump throughout this campaign season. Pastor Burns, thanks so much for being with us.

MARK BURNS: Happy to be here, Scott.

SIMON: What did the people in the room tell Donald Trump?

BURNS: We discussed why it's so important that Mr. Trump continue to echo his stance on allowing parents to choose the schools that their children can go to. And this is one of the major issues that Donald Trump is going to be standing behind.

SIMON: Education and economic issues you talked about.

BURNS: Absolutely.

SIMON: In 2016, in that room, did anybody mention police conduct in minority communities?

BURNS: You know, again, that's something that also very dear to Mr. Trump's heart is police brutality - really, it's an abuse of power on any level, whether it be Hillary Clinton and the State Department or an officer of the law who has abused their positioning. You know, even though he is the law-and-order candidate - but he also, you know, is going to show a compassion for inmates and for people of color who feel that the police has treated them unjustly simply for the color of their skin.

SIMON: Pastor Burns, I saw some video of you at a rally this week in Mississippi, and I've got to ask you about at least a couple of phrases you used. Why did you say there are doubts about Hillary Clinton's health?

BURNS: Well, I'm not a conspiracy theories person, OK? I only try to give facts as they're given to me or as I see them. And for me, there's enough evidence that is out there, right now, that clearly shows Hillary Clinton has some type of ailment. I mean, you can not ignore the interview that she had where she appeared to go into some type of convulsive, you know, shock-like, some type of a seizure. And it was done...

SIMON: I got to tell you, I don't remember that. I don't know a lot of people who do remember that, Pastor.

BURNS: Well, all you have to do is simply just Google it. It's there. It's plain as day. I'm no medical doctor, nor do I claim to diagnose a medical issue. But what I can say is this video is out there.

SIMON: Look, let me ask you something about that rally that I think does go into your wheelhouse of expertise. At one point in this rally in Mississippi, you referred to Hillary Clinton and her evil deeds. Now, you're a man of God, Pastor Burns. Why do you refer to policies with which you might, I guess, plainly do disagree as evil deeds?

BURNS: Well, I think when you have a disregard for the effects that certain policies have on certain groups of Americans, I think, it's evil. For me, abortion is extremely evil. I am, as you stated, a man of God. And for me, life begins at conception.

SIMON: You might disagree with abortion, and obviously a good number of Americans do, but it's the law of the land.

BURNS: It is the law of the land. But that doesn't stop me from believing that murder of a child is wrong. And also for marriage, for me, marriage is so important. That comes directly from the word of God. Marriage is between one man and one woman.

SIMON: Your candidate, Donald Trump, supports gay rights. He said he would do more for gays than Hillary Clinton.

BURNS: I could tell you what Donald Trump has said to me personally. And he believes marriage is between one man and one woman. But he also declared that it is the law of the land, as you just stated. That doesn't mean I personally have to support it.

SIMON: But - so it's an evil deed when Hillary Clinton supports it, but it's not an evil deed when Donald Trump supports it?

BURNS: No, I didn't say that either. Your question to me was...

SIMON: I think you did say it...

BURNS: ...about Hillary Clinton...

SIMON: ...But go ahead.

BURNS: ...Not about Donald Trump.

SIMON: Yeah, yeah.

BURNS: No, I did not.

SIMON: OK.

BURNS: Your question to me was about Hillary Clinton...

SIMON: Evil deeds, yeah.

BURNS: ...And that's what we're talking about now. In reference to Donald Trump - do I support everything a president would support? Absolutely not. Who does? Even as I am a strong advocate for Donald Trump, and I believe he will be the next president, I can't answer for everything he does. I do support a strong nation. I do support unified blacks and whites and Asians and Hispanics and getting us to stop focusing on those cultures that divide us and bring us together as Americans.

SIMON: Pastor Mark Burns, thanks very much for your time.

BURNS: Thank you, Scott. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.