By Veronica Mackey
Currently, about 2% of African American voters plan to vote for Donald Trump in the Fall election. With Election Day less than 80 days away, he must know that winning this group is a lost cause.
Yet, he made a plea last week in Wisconsin for African Americans to give him a shot:
"You're living in poverty. Your schools are no good. You have no jobs. Fifty-eight percent of your youth is unemployed. What the hell do you have to lose?" he said. Although he was speaking about African Americans, he was not speaking directly to them, as the crowd there was nearly all-white.
On Monday, Trump doubled down on his message to a white crowd in Akron, Ohio, saying some black neighborhoods are more dangerous than war zones.
On Tuesday, NBC News reported the reality show star again reached out to Black Americans. He spoke in Austin with a few blacks seated behind him. But that was only for the cameras. The crowd there was also predominately white.
Who he’s really talking to
If Trump is indeed serious about winning the black vote, he’d do better without all the doom and gloom. His message to blacks is one-sided and far from inspiring.
And if he really wants to reach black voters, why doesn’t he go to where black folks actually live?
According to the New York Times, “pollsters and strategists speculate that Mr. Trump’s newfound attention to blacks and inner-city conditions is aimed less at actually vying for African-American support than at softening his image among suburban whites who might otherwise be receptive to him but are loath to vote for someone seen as racist.”
Indeed, there have been plenty of opportunities for Trump to woo black voters, if he were serious. However, according to NBC News, he has repeatedly snubbed influential black organizations like the NAACP and National Association of Black Journalists—either ignoring or turning down invitations. Even past Republican candidates John McCain (2008) and Mitt Romney (2012), whose favorability with blacks was less than 10 percent combined, made attempts to reach out to historically African American institutions.
Then there is the issue of birtherism. Trump’s mission to discredit the citizenship of America’s first black president by demanding to see Obama’s birth certificate was just a preview of a long line of racist rants that followed.
His presidential campaign began by depicting Mexicans as “rapists” and calling for a temporary ban of all Muslims from entering the U.S.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee issued a statement on Wednesday, citing several recent headlines that address the candidate’s campaign pivot to reach black voters. NBC News Latino quoted black and Latino leaders describing Trump as “unhinged” and in “panic mode.” VOX called the new strategy “so dead on arrival (that) it’s barely worth thinking about in the terms it was presented.”
Not so friendly past
Although Trump touts his “great” relationship with “the blacks,” history belies this description. Long before his celebrity status on the successful reality show, “The Apprentice,” the Trumps were accused of systematically discriminating against black tenants seeking rentals in their buildings, even using a code letter "C" to represent "colored" applicants, according to NBC News.
Then there are ties between Trump and white supremacists that have resurfaced as recently as this year. Trump got into trouble for retweeting remarks made by racists. When former Ku Klux Klan wizard David Duke endorsed Trump in February, the candidate repeatedly denied even knowing who he was. That was until old videos surfaced of Trump commenting about Duke. When pressed, Trump said in an NBC interview, “No, no, well, I know who he is, but I never met David Duke, so when you talk about it, I’ve never met David Duke.”
The closer we get to election time, the more Trump’s past will be running after him. The Clinton campaign, which is experiencing its own set of image problems, however is enjoying a 91 percent favorable polling with African Americans, according to an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll.