Clyburn argues with Neil Cavuto over African American employment numbers: 'We were fully employed during slavery'

House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) pushed back on Fox News’s Neil Cavuto’s citation of record low African American unemployment, saying African Americans “were fully employed during slavery.”

The subject came up when Cavuto asked Clyburn, who has yet to make an endorsement ahead of the South Carolina primaries, if he would support the Democratic nominee if it was former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg.

"I'm going to back whoever our nominee is. Absolutely,” said Clyburn, the top African American Democrat in Congress.

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"Even with the things he has said about African Americans? Does that bother you?" Cavuto asked. Bloomberg has blamed the 2008 financial crisis on the end of racially discriminatory “redlining” practices and defended the controversial stop-and-frisk policy, which disproportionately targeted minority youths.

"Well, not as much as what Trump has said about African Americans," Clyburn said. "Any time that I go to the polls, I'm considering positives and negatives on all candidates. And I try to go with the one whose positives outweigh the negatives."

Pressed by Cavuto on record low African American unemployment under the Trump administration, Clyburn called the numbers “not true,” adding, "I'm saying that the African American unemployment is not the lowest it's ever been unless you count slavery … We were fully employed during slavery. So it all depends how you measure this up."

Clyburn also said raw economic data did not properly capture African American satisfaction under President TrumpDonald John TrumpHouse panel approves 0.5B defense policy bill House panel votes against curtailing Insurrection Act powers after heated debate House panel votes to constrain Afghan drawdown, ask for assessment on 'incentives' to attack US troops MORE, saying, “I go to church with African Americans. I live with African Americans. I'm the father of African Americans."

A Washington Post-Ipsos poll of black adults released in January found 83 percent of respondents believed Trump was a racist and had made race relations worse in the U.S. Despite this, Trump’s reelection campaign is aiming to improve on its African American support from 2016, with a goal of not winning the majority but peeling off 2 or 3 percentage points.