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Donald Trump's 'endorsement' by 100 black ministers fizzles

Donald Trump's campaign canceled a news conference that

Donald Trump's campaign canceled a news conference that was billed as an endorsement of 100 black clergy members. Credit: Getty Images

Donald Trump's campaign Sunday canceled a Manhattan news conference it had initially billed as an endorsement of the Republican presidential candidate by a coalition of 100 black clergy members.

The event Monday at Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue was scaled back after several African-American religious leaders came forward to say they had agreed only to talk with Trump, not endorse him. Some said their meeting had been misrepresented as an endorsement event.

The billionaire businessman will still hold a closed-door meeting, but there will no longer be an appearance before the media and the public, campaign spokeswoman Hope Hicks said Sunday.

"On Monday, Mr. Trump will host an informational meet and greet with many members of the Coalition of African American Ministers," she said in a statement. "This is not a press event, but a private meeting, after which a number of attendees are expected to endorse Mr. Trump's campaign for president."

Hicks did not respond to questions about how many clergy members would attend, how many would endorse Trump's 2016 bid or why the news conference was canceled.

Bishop Hezekiah Walker, of Love Fellowship Tabernacle church in Brooklyn, one of 15 names listed on a flier announcing today's event, said in an Instagram post yesterday that he never planned to endorse Trump, but wanted to speak with him about racism and other injustices.

Walker said recent name-calling by Trump -- and what he characterized as unfair attacks by his own "constituents" over the planned meeting -- were behind his decision to skip the meeting altogether.

"I also want it to be clear that I never had any intentions on endorsing Mr. Donald Trump" and would "never [have] been persuaded to," he added.

Bishop Orrin Pullings Sr., of United Nations International Church Fellowship in South Richmond, Virginia, said in a statement that he planned to attend the meeting, but not as an endorsement.

"Because of Donald Trump's potential to maybe, possibly, become the president, I think it is important for us to voice our concerns about how things are in America," he said Saturday.

Stockbridge, Georgia-based preacher Cindy Trimm said she will meet with Trump in light of threats of more terrorist attacks around the world, but would not automatically grant her support.

"I am attending this meeting for a greater cause -- unity," she wrote on Facebook on Saturday. "To address accusations head on, I have NOT been compensated for attending this meeting. I cannot be bought and my vote is not up for sale."

Bishop George Bloomer, of Bethel Family Worship Center in Durham, North Carolina, said in a statement Friday that "marketing by the Trump campaign" led many to believe he was endorsing the candidate.

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