Miller Resigns, Winbush’s Trump Comments Recalled

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — Businesswoman Kathy Miller has resigned as volunteer chairman of Mahoning County’s Trump campaign committee following widely condemned comments about blacks to the British newspaper, The Guardian.

Miller, in an interview recorded on video, claimed there was “no racism” during the 1960s when she was growing up. “I don’t think there was any racism until [Barack] Obama got elected,” she said.

She also claimed that blacks who haven’t succeeded over the past half-century “only have themselves to blame” and called the Black Lives Matter movement “a stupid waste of time.”

Miller, a former Boardman Township trustee, resigned and apologized Friday morning.

“My personal comments were inappropriate, and I apologize. I am not a spokesperson for the campaign and was not speaking on its behalf. I have resigned as the volunteer campaign chair in Mahoning County and as an elector to the Electoral College to avoid any unnecessary distractions,” Miller said in a statement.

Added Bob Paduchik, Ohio State director for the Trump campaign, “Our county chairs are volunteers who signed up to help organize grassroots outreach like door-knocking and phone calls, they are not spokespeople for the campaign.  I have accepted Kathy Miller’s resignation as the Mahoning County chair in light of these inappropriate comments.

“We have asked Tracy Winbush, who has been actively involved in our Mahoning County and statewide campaign, to take her place and serve as our new volunteer Mahoning County Trump chair and to replace her as an elector to the Electoral College,” he added.

Winbush is vice chairman of the Mahoning County Republican Party and was a vocal opponent of Trump’s during the primary campaign.

In a statement distributed to reporters, the county party’s chairman , Mark Munroe, said once he became aware of Miller’s comments, he “immediately reached out to the Trump campaign and asked that she be dismissed from her volunteer position of county coordinator for the campaign.”

Munroe called Miller’s remarks “both shocking, offensive and in no way reflect the views of the Mahoning County Republican Party. …Miller’s comments indicate that she does not have the understanding of the many unique challenges faced by our friends in the black community,” he said.

“Trump has displayed a sensitivity and understanding of the plight of minorities that is both refreshing and encouraging,” Munroe continued. “He has spoken often about the high rates of black unemployment, and how government programs that are intended to help, can sometimes trap families into cycles of dependency. Trump’s remedy is a strong economy that provides jobs, not another government program, and that’s why we are excited about his candidacy.”

Thursday afternoon Hillary Clinton’s campaign responded to Miller’s comments with a statement from Denise Horn, director of African American media for Hillary for America.

“From the start of his campaign, Donald Trump has fueled divisive comments, like the ones we heard from his now former Mahoning County chair this morning, and mainstreamed bigotry and hate,” Horn said. “Just yesterday in Ohio, Trump himself admitted he hasn’t actually changed his mind on the birther conspiracy theory to de-legitimize our first African American president, saying he was just trying change the subject. Elevating dangerous elements in our society is at the heart of his campaign, which is why we must stand up to this deplorable rhetoric and prevent Trump from ever getting close to the White House.”

The Clinton campaign also reminded reporters that Winbush, who supported Gov. John Kasich, was highly critical of Trump.  The campaign also noted that Winbush has deleted some of her tweets that previously reflected her disdain for Trump.

On Thursday evening, the British newspaper that interviewed Miller on video tape, The Guardian, followed up with an update with the headline, “He ‘offends me as an African American’: [Mahoning County] Trump replacement on record bashing him.” The story contained links to a YouTube video of Winbush criticizing Trump.

A statement from Winbush later was released by the Ohio Republican Party. “I’m proud to take a leadership role in Mr. Trump’s campaign. Although I supported another candidate in the primary, I am 100% behind Mr. Trump,” Winbush said.

Meanwhile,  U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, D-13 Ohio and a strong supporter of Hillary Clinton, condemned Miller’s remarks as “a new low in the Trump campaign’s race to the bottom” and called on the GOP nominee to disavow her comments.

“Donald J. Trump has inspired, reinforced, and added fuel to these sorts of racist and divisive comments over the course of his life and his candidacy,” Ryan said. Miller’s comments are “disrespectful to the real, lived experience of African Americans to assign blame, and it paints over the serious work that needs to be done to create a safer and more prosperous nation for everyone, regardless of race or ethnicity.”

Reported by Andrea Wood and George Nelson.

Pictured: Kathy Miller at a picnic where she was interviewed by The Guardian.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.