Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump made headlines Friday when, with a racially charged exclamation, the candidate singled out an African-American man at a campaign rally in Redding, California.
"Oh, look at my African-American over here!" Trump had said, interrupting his own winding speech to direct his supporters' attention to a man in the crowd. "Look at him. Are you the greatest? You know what I'm talking about, OK?"
But the man called out by Trump -- Gregory Cheadle, a Republican candidate in California's first congressional district -- didn't seem to mind the attention.
"I never, ever sensed any racism on his part," Cheadle told CBS News in a phone interview Saturday. "Looking at it now, I can see on a script -- in a transcript, or even somebody watching the clip -- I can see how they would jump to the conclusion that it was racist. But I never felt anything at all."
Instead, Cheadle took it as a flattering remark.
"It's a compliment to me," said Cheadle, who briefly met Trump when the billionaire waded into the crowd after the event.
Their exchange, reported by the Redding Searchlight, happened after Cheadle had called out, "Uncle Donald, Uncle Donald." Cheadle told the local news outlet that Trump "recognized me as the guy he had called out" and they chatted briefly about job creation.
Cheadle said Saturday that the attention Trump paid him seemed more like a recognition "that my work is paying off, that we as a black people can achieve things."
And he further laughed off the Internet uproar regarding Trump's "my African-American" phrasing: "We are a super-sensitive people now when it comes to race," he said. "I mean, super sensitive. And we're so ready to pull that racist trigger and sometimes unnecessarily so."
"I'm running in a district that's at least 90 percent white. If I wanted to find racism, I could," Cheadle added, but noted that "the prejudice people have against me is dissipating."
Asked why he felt the perception toward him has been less racially tinged, the congressional candidate said it was because he didn't fit "stereotypes."
"I don't wear my pants down to my knees," he said. "I'm not a lover of rap music ... They're seeing a far more positive role model than they've ever seen."
Despite Trump's call out to him, Cheadle has not yet decided who to vote for in November. He said that he attended the Trump rally to keep "an open mind" about the presidential candidates.
"I wanted to see for myself who he was," he said. "I just wanted to hear him. Did he sway my vote one way or the other? No. What he did do was he did inspire me."
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