Donald Trump lauded a man he called "my African-American" at a California rally on Friday, and that man, Gregory Cheadle, came out almost immediately to say he hadn't been bothered by the reference and was even "happy" about it. Yet that doesn't mean the Republican, who's running for a seat in his state's 1st Congressional District, is an unwavering Trump fan. NPR reports that when Cheadle was spotted by Trump at the rally, he was using a sign to block the sun—and that sign happened to read "Veterans for Trump." But "I am not a Trump supporter," he tells NPR, noting he hasn't decided who to vote for yet and that "I went to go hear Donald Trump because I have an open mind." He says that he's "a free man. ... I refuse to be chained to any particular party," adding to the Redding Record Searchlight: "I refuse to stay on anyone's plantations."
He explains to the Record Searchlight that "I don't like the racist policies of Hillary Clinton; I think Bernie Sanders has a good message, but he fails in his execution; and I don't know anything about Donald Trump." Cheadle reiterates that even though his mind hasn't been made up about where his vote will be cast, he still wasn't offended by Trump's rally remarks. "He had been speaking positively about black people prior to that statement," he tells NPR. "Everybody was happy. It was a jovial thing." He parses Trump's word choice as well, noting that Trump could've avoided the "ambiguity" of his phrasing had he simply said "my African-American friend" or "supporter"—though he adds that had Trump followed up his statement with "'what's up, dawg' or 'boy' or even the n-word as they use it today, I really would have been offended."