Home Politics Trump has a difficult relationship with black voters. He is trying to change it.

Trump has a difficult relationship with black voters. He is trying to change it.

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During a stop at a winery in the heart of Harlem last week, Trump criticized Biden's border policies as well as New York Democrats for allocating millions of dollars in food and rental assistance to people who recently entered the country.

Months before his criminal trial began, former President Donald Trump appeared before black conservatives in South Carolina and made a direct appeal to African-American voters with a provocative: and, according to critics, racist — topic: Like you, I am unfairly persecuted by the criminal justice system.

It was just the beginning of a very calculated effort by Trump to reduce President Joe Biden’s standing with an electorate that has historically been among the Democratic Party’s most reliable voting blocs.

Three Trump campaign officials described to POLITICO the former president’s strategy for attracting Black voters during the trial and beyond, revealing an in-depth look at his game plan as they ramp up the campaign ahead of November.

According to Trump’s advisers, the former president and his campaign will use his legal problems (and racial issues in New York in general) to appeal to black voters by suggesting that Trump, a 77-year-old white man from a privileged family with a history of offensive rhetoric, is beset by the same injustices that afflict African Americans.

He will make presentations aimed at voters of color during campaign-style stops in and around the city, including in historically black neighborhoods like Harlem. And they say he will try to turn the city’s immigration crisis into a wedge issue to appeal to black voters resentful of local Democratic officials who approved millions in resources to support newly arrived immigrants instead of their communities.

“The Biden administration has made a deliberate decision to put the interests of illegal immigrants before the interests of the American people,” James Blair, political director of the Trump campaign, told POLITICO. “And black voters, like every other group of voters in America, are enraged by this.”

Perhaps no politician in modern America has been able to tap into voters’ anxieties over issues of race, ethnic rivalries, and cultural grievances as effectively as Trump. Of calling Mexican immigrants “rapists” and criminals to say there was “blame on both sides” after white supremacists and neo-Nazis participated in violent protests in Charlottesville, the former president has consistently appealed to the white, male and less educated voter base on ethnic issues, often receiving a general reaction. of the Democrats and of his own party.

But in recent polls, he has made some gains among black voters. And his campaign now deliberately targets them with a more sophisticated approach than he displayed early in his political career, using his ongoing trial in New York as a backdrop.

Black men, in particular, are a key constituency that his advisers see as reachable and that eludes Biden. According to a Wall Street Journal survey This month, about 30 percent of black men in the seven key states said they would definitely or probably vote for Trump for president.

Discontent with Biden among this voting bloc is due to his handling of the economy and immigration. If those numbers hold, it would mean a nearly threefold increase in support among black men for Trump, who received just 12 percent of black men’s votes four years ago, according to AP VoteCast, a poll of voters conducted on election day and the days immediately preceding it.

The stakes for Trump – and Biden – are enormous. Even a marginal improvement for Trump among black voters could tilt the outcome in closely contested states in November.

Trump has already begun employing this strategy. During a stop at a winery in the heart of Harlem last week, the former president criticized Biden’s border policies as well as New York Democrats for allocating millions of dollars in food and rental assistance to people who recently entered the country. .

“They’ve come and taken over the parks, they’ve taken over the hotels, they’ve taken over everything, it’s no use,” said Trump, who also mentioned a New York City program established in January that provides $53 million in prepaid debit cards to help tens of thousands of immigrants in the city pay for temporary housing and food.

“And do you know what they have done?” he said. “They have destroyed so many people, the African-American community now can’t get jobs, immigrants are taking away jobs that are here illegally.”

Trump’s rhetoric on the issue of immigration is especially powerful. Tens of thousands of immigrants, from Latin American countries and elsewhere, have been used as political pawns in recent years by conservative-leaning states. Those immigrants, many of whom hoped to be granted asylum, were bused or traveled to liberal-leaning cities like New York, Chicago, Boston and Washington, creating tension with black residents who feel marginalized and leaders. elected officials of color who run those cities.

During a contentious Chicago City Council meeting last summer, for example, a black councilwoman, Jeanette Taylor, broke down in tears during a debate over whether to transfer $51 million in city funds to help immigrants.

“I’m so tired of, when it’s a crisis for everyone else, we say, ‘We have to do something.’ But when we have this violence in the black community, nothing is said or done,” Taylor said.

However, activists also labeled her a “sellout” and “traitor” when she voted to approve the transfer of funds.

Lynne Patton, a senior adviser to the Trump campaign, said in an interview that the campaign would be “foolish not to take advantage of the fact that Trump is in New York state, in New York City, which has been disproportionately affected by illegal immigration since Biden took office.”

However, critics of the former president featured reports that since Trump’s overhaul of the Republican National Committee, minority-themed outreach centers that were launched under the previous leadership of the Republican National Committee have closed. It’s evidence, they say, that Trump’s attempts to connect with voters of color are nothing more than a facade.

Blair laughed at those characterizations.

“Having an office is not indicative of reach,” Blair said. “They don’t want you to talk about the fact that 62 percent of black voters say immigration and border security are going in the wrong direction, and they want you to talk about office space.”

Trump officials admit they have to be strategic in deploying Trump, as the New York trial will sharply limit his ability to campaign. The only day the trial will not be in regular session will be Wednesday, although Trump will generally be free on weekends to raise funds and hold events. On Saturday he plans to hold a rally in North Carolina.

Some black conservatives in Georgia criticized Trump's visit to Chick-fil-A as an act of pandering rather than genuine outreach to the community.

However, Trump’s attempts to reach black voters can sometimes seem contrived or clumsy. Earlier this year, the former president released a Trump sneaker, which a Fox News pundit hailed as “connecting with black america.” More recently, the former president’s campaign attempted to create a viral moment on social media in April when Trump visited a Chick-fil-A restaurant in Atlanta and was greeted by Black fast-food workers. Videos posted online showed one supporter, a black woman named Michaelah Montgomery, telling him, “I don’t care what the media tells you, Mr. Trump, we support you,” before approaching him and giving him a hug. .

Chick-fil-A is located on route from the airport to the Fulton County Jail, where the former president took his infamous mugshot in a criminal case in Georgia, where he is accused of participating in a plot to subvert that state’s 2020 election.

However, some black conservatives in Georgia criticized Trump’s visit as an act of pandering rather than genuine outreach to the community. Black conservative radio show host Sonnie Johnson called it a “photo opportunity” on social media, while Felecia Killings, who runs a conservative think tank specializing in Black outreach in Atlanta, he derided it as trite.

“This is a non-serious moment right now for the rapprochement of Trump and black people,” he said in an interview.

Trump world, however, takes it very seriously. Last week, Donald Trump Jr. sat down to a wide interview with hip hop podcaster and internet personality DJ Akademiks, where the former president’s son touted how his father would help African Americans if elected in November. He also compared federal agents’ search at Mar-a-Lago to the recent raids of Sean “Diddy” Combs’ homes in Miami and Los Angeles, saying both were “nonsense.”

“I’m not saying our justice system has always been fair,” he continued. “If they can do this to Trump… who wants to do it to him?”

It was similar to Trump’s message to black Republicans in South Carolina last February, where he sought to connect with the audience by highlighting his own problems with the criminal justice system.

“Our message to the black community in this election will be very simple,” Trump said. “If you want strong borders, safe neighborhoods, rising wages, good jobs, great education and the return of the American dream, then congratulations, you’re a Republican.”

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