CNN analyst Van Jones warned fellow Democrats on Tuesday that Trump’s criminal justice reform policies and prioritization of funding for historically black colleges could win over black voters.
“Warning to Democrats: what [Trump] was saying to African Americans can be effective,” Jones said following the State of the Union address. “You may not like it, but he mentioned HBCU’s [historically black colleges and universities], black colleges have been struggling for a long time, a bunch of them have gone under, he threw a lifeline to them in real life in his budget.”
Jones also noted that Trump’s commitment to criminal justice reform, which he touted in a superbowl ad and reiterated during the State of the Union, could woo black voters away from their longtime home in the Democratic party.
” We’ve got to wake up, folks, there’s a whole bubble thing that goes on,” Jones continued. “We say, ‘well he said s-hole nations, therefore all black people are going to hate him forever.’ That ain’t necessarily so. I think what you’re going to see him do, you may not like my rhetoric, but look at my results and my record for black people. If he narrow casts that, it’s going to be effective.”
Jones, a former adviser to President Obama, has previously spoken in support of Trump’s and conservatives’ criminal justice reform efforts.
“The conservative movement in this country, unfortunately from my point of view, is now the leader on this issue of reform,” Jones said at the CPAC conference in February 2019. The analyst was discussing a sweeping reform package passed in December 2018 that aims to reduce mass incarceration rates by, among other things, allowing more inmates to qualify for early-release programs.
The reform package, known as the First Step act, was championed by Trump and senior adviser Jared Kushner.