Trump: People saying 'something very special' happening with race in US

President TrumpDonald John TrumpEsper sidesteps question on whether he aligns more with Mattis or Trump Warren embraces Thiel label: 'Good' As tensions escalate, US must intensify pressure on Iran and the IAEA MORE in an interview broadcast Sunday ducked questions about his handling of race relations in the country, pointing instead to economic gains for minority groups.

"Face the Nation" host Margaret Brennan initially cited a recent CBS poll that found 63 percent of respondents disapprove of Trump's handling of race relations.

"What has happened is very interesting," Trump said. "The economy is so good right now."

He lauded the decreasing unemployment numbers for Hispanics, African-Americans and women, statistics the president often cites when describing his relationship with minority groups.

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"So I think I've been given a lot of credit for that," Trump said. "And in terms of race, a lot of people are saying, well, this is something very special what's happening."

Brennan noted that Sen. Tim ScottTimothy (Tim) Eugene ScottGOP put on the back foot by Trump's race storm Fox personalities blast Trump's remarks Romney won't say if Trump's attacks against minority lawmakers are racist MORE (S.C.), the lone black Republican senator, has called the president "racially insensitive." Trump said he has a "great relationship" with Scott, and again pivoted to low unemployment numbers for African-Americans.

"And I think they like me a lot and I like them a lot," he said.

Trump has drawn repeated criticism for his rhetoric toward minority groups. He has called Central American immigrants "thugs" and "criminals"; he has reportedly referred to Haiti, El Salvador and some African nations as "shithole countries"; he said "both sides" were to blame for violence at a white nationalist rally in 2017; and for many years he pushed the false conspiracy theory that former President Obama was not born in the U.S.

A CBS News poll conducted last month found that 57 percent of those surveyed said race relations in the U.S. are generally bad. Seventy-three percent of blacks surveyed described race relations as "generally bad," as did 54 percent of whites.

Some progressive lawmakers, including Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), have labeled Trump a racist, citing his past comments and his immigration policies.