Trump Campaign Launching Black Outreach Effort For 2020

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President Donald Trump arrives at Dobbins Air Reserve Base to attend a fundraiser and speak at the launch of "Black Voices for Trump," Friday, Nov. 8, 2019, in Marietta, Ga. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)

ATLANTA (AP) — During the 2016 campaign, candidate Donald Trump stood in front of largely white crowds and asked black voters to consider, “What the hell do you have to lose?”

Four years later, the president has a new message for black voters: Look what I’ve delivered.

Trump and his campaign will be launching a new “Black Voices for Trump” outreach initiative in Atlanta on Friday dedicated to “recruiting and activating Black Americans in support of President Trump,” according to the campaign. Much of that effort will focus on highlighting ways that African Americans have benefited from the Trump economy, according to advisers.

“Black Americans have never had a better champion than President Trump,” said senior campaign adviser Katrina Pierson in a statement. She added, “Black Americans’ strong support for President Trump will ensure a second term for the President.”

That prediction is met with skepticism from critics, however, given Trump’s consistently dismal approval rating with black voters, who overwhelmingly disapprove of the job he’s doing.

Trump has spent much of the last four years engaged in racially charged attacks, going after minority members of Congress, claiming “no human being” would want to live in rat “infested,” majority-minority Baltimore and claiming that there were “very fine people on both sides” of the deadly Charlottesville protest against white supremacists.

Shortly after landing in Georgia on Friday, Trump retweeted a call from one black supporter for submissions for a “#MAGACHALLENGE” competition featuring Trump-friendly rap songs. Trump said he would be announcing the winners and inviting them to the White House to meet with him and perform.

“I think black Americans are not the audience for these outreach efforts,” said Theodore Johnson, a senior fellow at the Brennan Center for Justice who is an expert in race and politics. While Trump might be able to maintain the low level of black support he received in 2016, or perhaps expand it by one or two points, he sees little evidence the president can change many minds.

“I think this is not going to move the needle at all,” Johnson said.

Before launching the new effort, Trump met with supporters at a fundraiser that was closed to the media. Nearby, a small group of protesters chanted, “Lock him up!” Trump is expected to raise about $3.5 million for a joint fundraising committee benefiting the Republican National Committee, the Trump campaign and the campaign of Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga. About 325 people are expected to attend.

In 2016, 6% of black voters supported Trump, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of people who participated in its polls and were confirmed to have voted. There is no indication his support is growing. Polling shows that African Americans continue to be overwhelmingly negative in their assessments of the president’s performance, with his approval hovering around 1 in 10 over the course of his presidency, according to Gallup.

Yet Trump’s campaign dismissed the numbers, insisting the campaign has seen favorable movement and arguing the president can increase his margins with black voters by bringing new people into the fold.

“The polls have never been favorable for Trump, and the only poll that matters is on Election Day,” Pierson said.

The campaign has launched similar coalitions for women, Latinos and veterans.

Darrell Scott, a black Ohio pastor and a longtime supporter of the president who will be part of the new coalition and attend Friday’s event, said that in 2015 and 2016, supporters trying to sell Trump to black voters could only point forward to share things they anticipated from Trump.

“Now that it’s 2020, we’re able to point backwards and to some very definitive accomplishments that the president has done,” Scott said. “He delivered on promises he didn’t even make.”

The campaign and White House point to a list of achievements, including passage of bipartisan criminal justice reform legislation, which Trump signed into law last year, along with his ongoing support for opportunity zones in urban areas and new investments in historically black colleges.

“I don’t know anyone who’s done that kind of work outside of the president on attacking those big issues or trying to stop drugs from coming into the neighborhood and, at the same time, giving people second chances,” said Ja’Ron Smith, deputy assistant to the president and one of the White House’s few minority high-ranked officials.

Advisers also point to a series of economic gains, including the fact that black unemployment hit a record low last year, with fewer blacks living in poverty. But Trump and his campaign also have a tendency to exaggerate the gains, giving Trump credit for trends that were years in the making, seizing on momentary upticks, cherry-picking favorable statistics and ignoring more troubling ones, such as black home ownership and net worth.

Congressional Black Caucus Chairwoman Karen Bass, D-Calif., said Thursday that contrary to Trump’s claims, in the three years of his presidency, African Americans have lost a lot.

“He has never had support from African Americans, but what we know about the president is that he will lie and say that he has,” said Bass, who noted that Trump rarely appears before black audiences.

“He has to identify a handful of African Americans and take them with him wherever he goes,” she said.

If he were any other Republican incumbent who inherited declining unemployment numbers and was able to sustain them, Trump would have a legitimate case to make to black voters, said Republican strategist Shermichael Singleton. But “because of some of his racial pronouncements … I think a significant percentage of African Americans are completely turned off.”

A September AP-NORC poll found that only roughly 3 in 10 Americans say the things Trump has done as president have been good for African Americans. And just 4% of African Americans said they think Trump’s actions have had a positive impact on African Americans in general, while 81% said they think they’ve been bad.

Yet even if he can’t win over black voters, some suspect that’s not the point. As long as the campaign can keep on-the-fence voters from casting their ballots for the eventual Democratic nominee, the campaign will be helping Trump inch closer to a second victory.

Some analysts have pointed to a precipitous drop in black turnout in 2016 as one of the reasons Trump beat his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton, who was far less popular — especially among black men —than former President Barack Obama, the nation’s first black president.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, about 60% of non-Hispanic blacks voted in 2016, versus about 67% in 2012. And that drop was seen in cities with significant African American populations in critical swing states that helped Trump eke out a victory.

“I do think the main objective is to discourage turnout,” said Johnson. “I absolutely think this is about creating doubt in black voters’ minds about the Democratic nominee” so people feel like “there’s almost no one worth voting for.”

And he said that fears were growing it might work.

“There is a pretty tangible fear among black Americans that Trump is going to win again because black turnout won’t be enough to mute the white turnout,” he said. “There’s a sense that in 2020 he’s going to win again.”

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9 COMMENTS

  1. Yes trump passed prison reformes for blacks .
    He is trying to fight against drugs, an epidemic blacks suffer . And when he disparages Baltimore or Chicago it’s bec he cares about the poor rat infested lifestyle there . He wants to bring blacks up . The fake news makes up stories about trump against blacks . He did curse out Latinos and Muslims but never blacks . Stop the fake news

    • Archy your defense of Trump “He did curse out Latinos and Muslims but never blacks” is worthy of being brought top the attention of the President. He may even offer you a cabinet post or an ambassadorship for such a brilliant defense of him. Or at the very least an autographed photo of Diamond and Silk his 2 blacvk supporters.

      • Again point to a time when he actually mocked blacks.

        Saying there are fine people in charlotsvile doesn’t mean blacks are bad unless you are a fake news twister .

        Edith stifle

      • FYI cursing out Muslims is fake game . They keep on killing us including 9/11. And they chant death to America . It’s totally acceptable to curse out a religion where even some of its members ( even if a minority )believe and chant death to America . Last I checked no sector of Jews chant death to America or burn American flags or teach to kill in their schools. So stiffle with your silly pc nonsense

      • There is no decent health care program to help the poor . That’s a myth and nonsense . It’s hot air . The way the world runs is, if you have money you get better stuff including health care and too drs . The poor will never get good health care . And no it’s not a right of every citizen . It’s like a fancy house and it’s a privilege. Yes I too am forced to make tough health care choices bec I am not healthy and can’t afford top drs and therapists . It’s the way of life and no one can change that .
        We can change how many people are poor . We can try to bring people of color out of poverty . But you can’t change poor people’s access to health care . This is all baloney

  2. After DingBat Donald knocked major football and basketball stars and fought in Fed Court to curtail the Voing Rights Act of 1965 he won’t get many black votes. He also taked about ‘his black’ at one of his Nurenburg Rallies. SchvatzPunim next?

    • I am no fan of Trump but it was under Obama — not Trump — that the Supreme Court pretty much overturned the most important protections in the voting rights act.

    • Go to hell scumbag supporter of the democrats who support and defend Jew haters who want to ban religious freedom who support and defend those who wish to destroy Israel, you are scum

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