PBS Host Tavis Smiley said black voters might get on board with Republican presidential front-runner Donald TrumpDonald TrumpKoch officials skeptical of Trump's alleged meeting invite Trump says he rejected meeting with Koch brothers Clinton hammers Trump for criticizing retired general MORE.
In a piece published in USA Today on Wednesday, Smiley notes that Democratic presidential candidate Hillary ClintonHillary Rodham ClintonKoch officials skeptical of Trump's alleged meeting invite Clinton hammers Trump for criticizing retired general Trump draws backlash for comments on slain soldier's father MORE received overwhelming support from African-Americans on Super Tuesday.
"Something tells me that if Donald Trump is indeed the Republican nominee, it might be a miscalculation for Democrats to assume that black voters are a lock for their nominee, even with the first black president and Barack ObamaBarack ObamaNigeria is making progress on economic reform and security Obama the 'X' factor of the 2016 cycle FULL SPEECH: Hillary Clinton closes out Democratic convention MORE both campaigning for her," he wrote.
Smiley noted in the piece that Clinton has been endorsed by members of the Congressional Black Caucus, black mayors and other black elected officials. She also has received "not so subtle signs of support from Obama White House insiders and a few shout-outs from President Obama himself."
But in this election cycle, he said conventional wisdom does not apply.
"I have been taken by myriad conversations I’ve had with black folk who don’t find those comments by Trump necessarily or automatically disqualifying," he wrote, referring to Trump's anti-immigration and anti-Muslim attacks.
He also brought up Trump's refusal last weekend to disavow the KKK and David Duke.
"In the coming days, we will see whether his initial refusal last Sunday on CNN to disavow the endorsement of David Duke, the Ku Klux Klan and white supremacy might anger black voters," he wrote.
"Interestingly, almost two months ago, CNN ran a story about a white supremacist group doing robocalls for Trump in Iowa. He didn’t denounce them then and seems to not have suffered for it."
In conversations with some of Trump's black friends, Smiley called their critique of the front-runner "highly nuanced."
"Men and women from black America's most privileged class, either genuinely like this guy or they’re afraid of being caught in his social media meat grinder," he wrote.
He also said it was surprising the a billionaire has convinced "hardworking, everyday people that he is their savior."
"Ultimately, Trump’s policies might not be that different from what Mitt Romney’s would have been, but they apparently sound different to working class voters. For many black voters, I think it’s fair to say that, at the moment, at least, Trump is no Romney," he wrote.
"Consequently, there is no reason to believe that if he is his party’s nominee, Donald Trump wouldn’t make a serious play for black voters. Who knows how much he might skim? In a close election, it might not take much."