The former boxing promoter Don King let loose a racial epithet while introducing Donald J. Trump in Ohio on Wednesday as the candidate was sitting just a few feet away onstage.
In the middle of making the case for why America, and “especially black people,” need to elect Mr. Trump, Mr. King recalled something he once told Michael Jackson about assimilation.
“I told Michael Jackson, I said, if you are poor, you are a poor Negro — I would use the N-word — if you are rich, you are a rich Negro,” he said at a campaign event at the New Spirit Revival Center in Cleveland Heights.
“If you are a talented intellectual, you are an intellectual Negro. If you are a dancing and sliding and gliding nigger, I mean Negro,” he said, as he chuckled briefly and those in the crowd laughed nervously around him.
Mr. Trump, who was sitting directly behind Mr. King and smiling broadly for much of his introduction, did not flinch or break his gaze. He kept his smile and turned to those sitting next to him, as Mr. King corrected himself.
Mr. King continued, “So dare not alienate because you cannot assimilate, so you are going to be a Negro ‘til you die.”
Mr. King, wearing a sparkly denim jacket, jeweled with American flags and patriotic emblems, finished his introduction and gave Mr. Trump a hug before leaving the stage, waving the flag of Israel as he departed.
Mr. King took the role of introducing Mr. Trump, despite the presence of the candidate’s running mate, Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana, who instead introduced Mr. King.
At the Republican National Convention in July, Mr. King said he was invited to speak by the Trump campaign, but that the Republican National Committee barred him from speaking because he had been convicted of manslaughter.
Mr. Trump had repeatedly promoted the endorsement of Mr. King on the campaign trail, and argued that Mr. King should have a spot at the convention, but Reince Priebus, the chairman of the R.N.C., explained to Mr. Trump that someone convicted of a felony could not appear on the party’s grandest platform.
Mr. King introduced Mr. Trump as his campaign has made a more pointed effort at outreach to black and other minority communities. Mr. King, in his introduction, tried to paint Mr. Trump as a candidate of “inclusiveness,” calling him a “doctor of humanness” who was fighting for the rights of everyone, including women.
“The white woman, and I put it in this category so you understand what I’m saying, the white woman and the slave, the people of color,” he said, continuing, “The white woman did not have the rights and she still does not have the rights. And the people of color don’t have the rights. Those are the left-outs. Donald Trump says no, we are going back to inclusiveness.”
After Mr. King’s introduction, Mr. Trump took the stage, smiling and saying “there’s only one Don King” as he thanked him for his remarks, telling the crowd that he extended the invitation on Tuesday to the boxing promoter and he promptly agreed, showing up at the airport at 6 a.m. for the early flight to Cleveland on Mr. Trump’s plane.
“I don’t want to say that he’s a good guy because I don’t want to destroy his reputation,” Mr. Trump said, smiling and turning around to face Mr. King. “But he is a good guy. He’s a phenomenal person. He became very rich, he’s very smart, he took advantage of lots of situations, I have respect for that and I have great respect for him.”