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Government & Politics

One of the RNC's Few Black Delegates Talks About the Evolution of Trump, Trade and Minimum Wage

Tracey Winbush

  Tracey Winbush is Ohio’s Republican Party treasurer. She’s also one of the few delegates of color on the 112-member Republican National Convention Platform Committee. And, she was one of the fiercest critics of Donald Trump before he won enough votes to make him the presumptive presidential nominee. WKSU’s M.L. Schultze has more on her perspectives then and now.

Winbush acknowledges she battled the nomination of Donald Trump saying he’d be a disaster for her party. The Youngstown native says her objections were tied in part to her support for Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s own presidential hopes – and in part to Trump’s style. But she’s found herself more in an accordance with Trump’s substance, especially on issues like trade.

“Common sense trade is important. Common sense legislation. Common sense deals are important. I didn’t disagree with him on that. I disagreed on his delivery more so than anything else. I’m not politically correct, but I don’t want to be rude. And so I disagreed with being rude.

I don't believe that Donald Trump is a racist. I believe he's a man who says things that are off the cuff.

"And then I had my own candidate in the race. It was a family fight. But now we’ve fought and now I have my candidate and I’ve got to go to the other side. I’ve got to eat some crow and move on.”

This is her first time on the Platform Committee and Winbush says she’s enjoying it, embracing the chance to show Ohioans concerns in the broader RNC platform.

She says it hasn’t escaped her notice that she’s a rarity among Republican delegates, a black woman – and acknowledges some of Donald Trump’s rhetoric has made it harder for the GOP to recruit more like her.

“Trump has made it difficult, but not impossible. The media is making it impossible because of sensationalism. They are using what is said and inflating it.  I’ll say this: I don’t believe that Donald Trump is a racist. I believe he’s a man who says things that are off the cuff.”

Winbush acknowledges that Trump’s words – however intended – have been picked up and passed on by racists and others, and says she wishes he’d be more circumspect

“But I can’t change a man, but if he cn do more for me economically, and keep me secure and do more for this country, I’d rather have him than someone I don’t trust and I don’t trust Hillary Clinton.

“I believe in the ability to create my own future, and I believe I don’t have to work from the bottom to the bottom.  I can work from the bottom to the top … and the Republican Party gives me the door to do so.”

As a member of the economic platform subcommittee, Winbush supported planks opposing a federal minimum wage and opposing Congress voting on the Pacific trade deal during a lame-duck session of Congress after the election.

“We’re in the rust belt. Ohio has a lot of imports/exports. We saw a lot of industry go down because of unfair trade. … And… we need to make sure whatever trade deals are made, it’s going to be America first.”

Winbush also believes minimum wages are a state, not a federal issue. Beyond that, she'd like to see a flexible minimum wage dependent on circumstances.

“If you are an entry level position or a teenager, I don’t need to give you$15 an hour for doing a certain job even though we’re sitting next to each other because I’m training you to work. If you are woman who is trying to raise a family, that’s something different. And maybe we ought to redefine minimum wage. But it definitely should not be blanket. I don’t believe we should pay you to show up to work. I believe we should pay you for the work you do.”

Winbush says overall, states are the sweet-spot for government because “that’s where the people have the most power.”

This story is part of WKSU and ideastream’s election collaborative.