Late last week, GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump ventured into new territory by making a specific appeal to African Americans. At his speech Friday in Dimondale Michigan, Trump asked blacks, “You’re living in poverty, your schools are no good, you have no jobs, 58% of your youth is unemployed — what the hell do you have to lose?” If Trump’s purpose was to truly engage with the black community and earn its votes, that effort largely fell flat.
The New York Times came to Atlanta to get reaction to Trump’s outreach efforts, and its story today reports a largely negative reception.
“I hear him not talking to black people, but talking to white people about black people so they will think he cares about black people,” said Alexis Scott, a former publisher of The Atlanta Daily World, a black-owned newspaper. “The real thing that he’s trying to do is to try to protect some of the white vote by suggesting to them that he cares.”
Matthew Platt, a political scientist at Morehouse College, said that Trump’s approach was different from what Republican politicians typically do to earn minority votes.
[Platt] noted that Mr. Trump’s basic presentation to black voters was perhaps not altogether different from the one he has made to white voters.
“It seems to me that Trump’s argument is this: ‘Your life sucks. Try something new. I’m something new,’” he said. “That’s the argument he’s making to black voters and, more broadly, that’s the entire Trump campaign.”
Many political observers have said that if Trump really wants to earn the support of blacks and other minorities, he should spend time in their communities, speaking with them about their concerns. His unwillingness to do that, combined with polling that shows him losing support of suburban whites, has led to suggestions that Trump’s intent is to reassure whites that he cares about blacks.