“Something very special” is happening with race relations in America, Donald Trump has claimed, and he says it is partly because of him.
Speaking in a TV interview, the president said rising employment was a significant element in that – something he had been “given a lot of credit for”.
African-Americans “like me a lot and I like them a lot”, he said.
In addition, criminal justice reform he helped to get through the Senate has improved his relationship with the National Football League (NFL), he said, following the refusal of many players to stand for the national anthem, choosing to kneel instead.
“A lot of people in the NFL have been calling and thanking me for it,” he told CBS’s Face The Nation, referring to the First Step Act which he signed before Christmas.
Among its measures are proposals to ease mandatory minimum sentences under federal law. Convicts will also be able to reduce their sentences more than at present in return for good behaviour.
Mr Trump said players “haven’t been kneeling and they have been respecting the flag” and “a lot of it is having to do with reform from what I understand”.
He added: “Whether it’s criminal justice or whatever it may be. But a lot of it had to do with that, and I took care of that.”
It was put to the president that in a recent CBS poll, 63% of Americans said they disapproved of his handling of race issues in the US.
In reply, he said that “African-Americans have the best employment numbers in the history of our country”.
He continued: “Hispanic Americans have the best employment numbers in the history of our country. Asian-Americans the best in the history of our country. You look at women – the best in 61 years.
“So I think I’ve been given a lot of credit for that. And in terms of race, a lot of people are saying, well, this is something very special what’s happening.”