After weeks of shrugging off accusations of bigotry and racial intolerance, Donald Trump had an answer for his critics. He would gather 100 African-American pastors at Trump Tower in Manhattan, then hold a press conference where the ministers would declare their backing for his run for the White House.
A private meeting went ahead, though the endorsement was scrapped after some of the pastors said they never intended to back him and the event had been oversold. For most political campaigns, this would be a PR disaster — but not for Mr Trump, who has an uncanny ability to dismiss inconvenient facts by delivering a memorable quote.
He had one at the ready when he met the press after the meeting on Monday.
"Black lives are very important. White lives are very important. And to me all lives are important," he announced. "I saw love in that room. I see love everywhere I go."
Four hours later, Mr Trump was back on the campaign trail in Macon, Georgia, a predominantly African-American city, where he addressed 5,000 enthusiastic supporters — most of whom were white.
On stage at the Macon Coliseum, Mr Trump waved his forefingers in the air like a conductor and led the audience in chants of "U-S-A!" "U-S-A!" When the audience took over, he cocked his head in satisfaction and flashed a $4.5bn smile to an imaginary director stage left.
"We're going to build the wall," he said. "Mexico is going to pay for it." The crowd erupted.
Six months into the billionaire's campaign, Mr Trump's campaign to become the Republican nominee for president is no longer a circus sideshow; it is the main event. Since announcing his candidacy in June — "it was like the Academy Awards," Mr Trump likes to recall — the real estate billionaire has consistently led in the polls, his support fuelled not by detailed policies on tax or foreign affairs, but on promises to build a wall on the US's southern border and kick out undocumented immigrants.