Where do you go if you want to appeal to Black voters in 2016? Well, if you’re Donald Trump, the answer is rallies in mostly White enclaves in cities across the nation.
What’s the pitch you hope will resonate with Black voters? If you’re Trump, the pitch is simple: “What the hell do you have to lose,” he asked, noting crime, poverty and failing schools in some Black communities.
He took the argument further on Tuesday, tying the difficult history of African-Americans to the Democratic Party itself during a rally Tuesday outside of Seattle, Washington. He said the Democratic Party defended institutional slavery and continues to preside over political machines in cities where African-Americans live under the oppressive weight of crime and poverty.
“It is the Democratic Party that is the party of slavery, the party of Jim Crow, and the party of opposition,” Trump said Tuesday evening at a rally in Everett, Washington, inciting boos from the predominantly White audience.
What’s next? Will he start singing civil rights anthems such as “Wade In the Water,” or “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” ?
He ramped up his argument as he tries to deflect attention away from the latest barrage of attacks after one of his African-American surrogates, Pastor Mark Burns, was roundly criticized for tweeting an image of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton in Blackface and another of her sporting blonde braids.
“The Republican Party is the party of Abraham Lincoln,” Trump said at the top of his speech. “Not bad. It’s also the party of freedom, equality, and opportunity.”
For months, analysts for both parties said Trump’s candidacy was doomed in the general election because he couldn’t pull in new constituencies – particularly Blacks, Hispanics, and women, who have been offended by his coarse comments on the campaign trail.
But in recent weeks, the Trump campaign has made a very public demonstration of its efforts to court Black and Hispanic voters – sometimes in awkward ways that underscore the distance that remains between the GOP and African-Americans.
In his latest overture on Wednesday, he made a last-minute trip to Mexico to meet President Enrique Peña Nieto, who greeted him with “an earful on trade and the importance of ties between the US and its southern neighbor,” according to CNN.
Relations have been tense between Trump and the country after the candidate called Mexican immigrants “rapists” and “criminals” and announced plans to build a wall along the nation’s border, vowing that Mexico would pay. The ploy has spurred criticism among independents and moderates, which is why he is using racial politics to reach out to these voters.
On Saturday, he plans to visit a Black church in Detroit, Michigan. But he will not speak, although that was the initial hype surrounding the visit.
So far, his efforts are not paying off. A recent poll shows that his popularity among African-Americans stands at zero.
But Trump appears to be doing the most of the damage himself, including hiring Stephen Bannon as his campaign CEO. He also administered a self-inflicted wound when the campaign refused invitations to speak this summer at the National Urban League Convention, the NAACP, and the joint NABJ and NAHJ conventions.
Trump, however, argues that he’s “always had a great relationship with the African-American community,” he insisted at a meeting last week at Trump Tower that was attended by NewsOne.
With Election Day just over 60 days away, his campaign is trading more barbs with the Clinton campaign on issues of race.
“Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine have a history of engaging voters of color over several decades,” Nadia Garnett, the Clinton campaign’s African-American vote director, told NewsOne in response to questions about Trump’s Black voter outreach. “It’s genuine.”
PHOTO CREDIT: Getty