With nearly 11 weeks to go before the November election, Donald Trump is trying to address the elephant in the room: his dismal standing among African-American voters.
The Manhattan billionaire’s plea has been the same — from Wisconsin, to Michigan, to North Carolina, Texas, and Mississippi. He asks black voters to give him a chance.
“What the hell do you have to lose?” Trump has been asking rhetorically since last week.
It is the first time in more than 14 months of campaigning that the real-estate mogul has looked in the direction of African-American voters en masse. Trump is making his pitch using the same vehicle that helped win him the GOP presidential nomination — big, boisterous campaign rallies, still attended by mostly white audiences.
At those rallies this week, Trump’s appeal to black voters took a curious turn — replacing “give Donald Trump a chance” with a new angle:
“Look, it is a disaster the way African Americans are living. … We’ll get rid of the crime. You’ll be able to walk down the street without getting shot. Right now, you walk down the street, you get shot.”
Trump’s assertion that getting shot is an everyday worry for black Americans at large speaks to his most glaring weakness with this demographic — that he is out of touch with people of colour, critics say.
“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,” former Atlanta newspaper publisher Alexis Scott told The New York Times in a story published on Wednesday.
Marc Morial, the president of the National Urban League, agreed, telling The Times that “black America has deep problems … but black America also has a large community of striving, successful, hard-working people: college educated, in the work force.”
Trump’s ominous depictions have followed another narrative he adopted in the past week, in which he framed the black American experience as rather apocalyptic.
“You’re living in poverty,” the New York businessman said. “Your schools are no good. Fifty-eight per cent of your youth is unemployed.”
But the evidence suggests that the stark — and, in the case of that youth unemployment number, inaccurate — generalizations have done little to dig Trump out of his low standing with African-American voters.
This week, he continues to poll in the single digits among the voting bloc.
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