Monday on MSNBC’s “Deadline,” MSNBC personality and civil rights figure Al Sharpton dismissed Donald Trump relevance pre-presidency, saying that no one took Trump “seriously.”

Sharpton said, “Donald Trump has decided that he is going to run a blatantly racist campaign. He’s counting on the American people to be that bigoted, and he’s trying to energize that base. Because you’ve got to ask yourself, first of all, it is the typical playbook to call civil rights guys conmen. J. Edgar Hoover said that about Martin Luther King. That’s right out of the playbook. You don’t belong in the field if you think you won’t be called that. And to you hate whites and cops, well why did he call me to the White House several times since he’s been president and come to my Action Network Convention, which I released the photos, he’s been there two, three times. He doesn’t believe that. He’s playing on what he hopes is the racial ignorance of a lot of Americans that he calls his base. I think he’s racist because he’s comfortable in doing that because you got to be racist to be comfortable.”

He added, “I think he thinks that any visible black because he could have picked on other civil rights guys, but he thinks they know my name and they’re visible. It doesn’t matter whether it’s me or Elijah Cummings or Maxine Waters. We’re good targets because people know you. So I happen to play into the stereotype. You have to remember many of us in New York never took Donald Trump seriously. So the reason you can have this complicated relationship is I’m in New Yorker, I grew up here. You always had these bigger-than-life figures. Broadway is down the block. You see this guy is hot two or three years and then he dies out as a career. So nobody took him seriously. I jumped on him on the Central Park Five case and housing. Go to fights, Don King, invite me to a fight, I’m close to Mike Tyson, and you go and the character Donald Trump sitting there, no big deal. Until Birtherism, and then he becomes the face of a political movement that we started taking him seriously. So it wasn’t like we were all cool with Donald Trump. We were nothing with Donald Trump. It was like if a guy walked in here right now and was the head of the circus at Madison Square Garden, you know, I like him or not like him but nobody really took him that seriously. You would say to him, oh, can I have that seat or something. Donald Trump was not a player. Nobody was running to him if they were running for office in New York and say I need your endorsement. Nobody was saying I need a photograph with you. He was not that kind of figure until Birtherism.”

Follow Pam Key on Twitter @pamkeyNEN

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