Two colorful political figures met in Virginia Wednesday. One of them was former Pennsylvania state Sen. Milton Street; the other, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.
During a campaign rally in Manassas, Virginia., Trump took a question from Street who asked whether the candidate would visit Philadelphia to talk about violence in the black community.
Trump’s on board.
“He is a highly respected, great man in Philadelphia,” he said of Street. “And the answer is yes.”
Joe DeFelice, executive director of Philadelphia’s Republican Party, disagrees with Trump’s assessment of the perennial mayoral candidate who spent time in federal prison for tax evasion. Instead, DeFelice said he would describe Street — the brother of former Philadelphia Mayor John Street — as “somewhat iconic” or “the clown prince of Philadelphia politics,” as he has been called by the Philadelphia Inquirer. (DeFelice also suggested we give this story the headline “21 Trump Street.”)
Street is well-known for his willingness to make outrageous statements and for his publicity stunts, such as bringing a coffin to City Hall to call attention to the murder rate or handing out pornographic emails sent by public employees caught up in the statewide “porngate” email scandal.
“There’s always a good story surrounding Milton and it makes for good political fodder,” said DeFelice.
The same goes for Trump.
“Whether you like what he’s saying or not, people are talking about him,” DeFelice said. “I’ve seen more people on social media in the last year that could have given a crap about politics chiming in about Trump both positively and negatively.”
There are other similarities, DeFelice points out. Both men are outspoken; they’ve both owned businesses; they’ve both “dabbled in politics”; and they both know how to attract media attention.
And they’ve both got problems with telling the truth.
Street has faced questions about his legal residency since 1999 when he was first tied to a Moorestown, New Jersey, address while running for office in Pennsylvania. During this year’s mayoral primary, he gave reporters the runaround when it came to his marital status (which is tied to the residency question) and accused them of asking “questions that have no value.”
Trump and Street met just days after Trump’s campaign announced he’d received the endorsement of 100 black pastors — a claim some of those clergy denied. The presidential hopeful is also doubling down on his claims that thousands of people in Jersey City, N.J. celebrated the 9/11 attacks, blaming the lack of evidence on a media cover-up.
At a press conference Thursday where Street was protesting the “porngate” email scandal, he told reporters he’s not on Team Trump — yet. He’s waiting to see if Trump makes good on his promise to visit Philadelphia.
“I will never support Donald Trump until he comes into the black community, talks to the members of the black community, makes a commitment to the black community as to what he’s going to do,” Street said.