"So Robert E. Lee was a great general, and Abraham Lincoln developed a phobia. He couldn't beat Robert E. Lee," Trump said. The president went on to recount Lincoln's selection of Union Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, an Ohio native, to face Lee in battle.
The moral of the story, in Trump's telling, is to pick leaders with personal flaws — in Grant's case, alleged alcoholism (a nod to Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh's disputed drinking history?) — so long as they know how to "win."
WATCH: President Trump says "Robert E. Lee was a great general" during Ohio rally, calling the Confederate leader "incredible." pic.twitter.com/4p6huezCD4
— NBC News (@NBCNews) October 13, 2018
Moments before those remarks, Trump had requested support from black voters and predicted the GOP will get it in the midterm elections. "Get away from the Democrats," Trump said to African Americans, who overwhelmingly supported his rival, Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, in 2016. "Think of it: We have the best numbers in history," he continued, referencing low unemployment rates for black workers, which were already trending down before he took office. "I think we're going to get the African American vote, and it's true."