A Michigan candidate derailed a political forum by putting a shockingly racist spin on President Donald Trump's new campaign slogan.
The president has updated his "Make America Great Again" slogan from 2016 to "Keep America Great," which he unveiled last week with new merchandise, and a city council candidate in a state he won three years ago echoed the theme in an explicitly racist remark, reported the Times Herald.
The moderator asked candidates at Thursday night's forum whether Marysville should more aggressively seek to attract foreign-born residents, and political newcomer Jean Cramer dropped a bombshell.
“Keep Marysville a white community as much as possible,” Cramer said.
Other candidates seeking one of the three open council seats laughed at first, and then participants spoke out against her suggestion.
“I don’t even know that I can talk yet, I’m so upset and shocked," said Mayor Pro Tem Kathy Hayman. "My father was 100 percent Syrian, and they owned the Lynwood Bar. It was a grocery store at that time. So basically, what you’ve said is that my father and his family had no business to be in this community."
Hayman's late father, Joseph Johns, served 55 years as an elected official in Marysville, and the city council meeting room where the forum was held is named for him.
“My son-in-law is a black man and I have biracial grandchildren,” Hayman added, “and I take this very personally what you’ve said, and I know that there’s nothing I can say that’s going to change your mind ... We just need to have more kindness — that’s it.”
Cramer was unapologetic after the meeting, and doubled down on her remarks.
"How can I put this?" Cramer told the newspaper. "What Kathy Hayman doesn’t know is that her family is in the wrong. The husband and wife need to be the same race, same thing with kids. That’s how it’s been from the beginning of, how can I say, when God created the heaven and the earth. He created Adam and Eve at the same time. But as far as me being against blacks, no I’m not.”
Mayor Dan Damman, who isn’t running for re-election, condemned Cramer's remarks after the forum.
"The racist comments by the City Council candidate at the Marysville city candidate(s) forum were as vile as they were jaw-dropping,” he told the Times Herald in an email statement. “It must be noted that this person has declared herself a City Council candidate for the November 2019 election but has never served on City Council for the city of Marysville.
“Mrs. Cramer’s disturbing and disgusting ideology is flatly rejected by me, our entire City Council, all of city administration, and our employees," he added. "The candidate forum was to be a mechanism to learn about the candidates and their viewpoints, thus empowering our electorate to make an informed decision before voting. The only positive result from this clear expression of overt and unapologetic racism is that this candidate’s views were put on display before our voters go the polls in November."