TAMPA -- Reggie Jackson and President Donald Trump go way back. The pair met at Yankee Stadium more than 30 years ago and have been friends since. "Royalty" is how Jackson describes the treatment he's received when he's visited Trump's office in New York, and Mr. October is "optimistic" he'll do well in the White House.
But, like many people, Trump has made the Hall of Famer "cringe" with some of his remarks, particularly about "religion, ethnicity (and) race," Jackson told NJ Advance Media.
"I like what I've seen so far," Jackson said Friday, appearing at Yankees spring training as a guest instructor. "Sometimes I cringe at the way he says things. When I see him talk about minorities, Jewish (people), some of the things that are going on socially, I'm glad to hear (him talking about) that. (But) sometimes you can't make blanket opinions. You can't ever make a blanket opinion."
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Still, Jackson said he believes that Trump is "trying to make us better off."
"Donald Trump is the president of the United States," Jackson said. "I think we support him."
Last March, during Trump's campaign for the Republican presidential nod, Jackson criticized Trump's desire to build a wall along the Mexican border to halt illegal immigration into the U.S.
Jackson said he hasn't spoken with Trump in a while. Jackson has said he doesn't identify with a political party.
Johnny Damon and Paul O'Neill are among ex-Yankees who have backed Trump.
"From what I've learned about some of the people that I respect in the business world, I always heard, 'Support your president. Be behind him,'" Jackson said. "If you have something negative to say -- I would make the effort to wait six months to get in front of him to say something publicly. I think there's always room for improvement. But I think he's trying."
Jackson said he does like Rex Tillerson, the former Exxon/Mobil CEO whom Trump made secretary of state. He also trusts Trump's business sense.
"He's got to have a great group of people in his business life because of the success he's had," Jackson said. "So I'm constantly referencing to that or looking to that, if you will."
Jackson added that he appreciated Trump visiting the National Museum of African American History and Culture last Tuesday.
Jackson, whose Mr. October Foundation has worked with schools to develop STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) curriculum, also said he likes Trump's push to keep businesses from leaving the U.S.
"If you just say, 'Stay in school,' you've done a job," Jackson said. "So if you just say, 'Gosh, if you could just help us with some jobs in America, help keep some of your manufacturing and production in America, that's on the right track."
Brendan Kuty may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @BrendanKutyNJ. Find NJ.com Yankees on Facebook.
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