Another day, another failed outreach to African Americans by Republican Presidential Nominee Donald Trump. This time, Trump took his “what do you got to lose?” message to Cleveland, a battleground state, where he and his supporters took to New Spirit Revival Center in Cleveland Heights for a bizarre press event that featured boxing promoter Don King dropping the n-word, all while Trump and his supporters laughed and smirked.
And if his African-American outreach couldn’t get any worse, Trump addressed a question about solving the issue of violence in black communities by calling for broad use of the polarizing stop-and-frisk policing strategy, which have been prohibited and condemned in New York for discriminating against African Americans.
Trump also addressed the police shooting of Terence Crutcher in Tulsa, saying there are a few officers who are “bad” or “choke” who shouldn’t be on the job.
“I must tell you, I watched the shooting particularly in Tulsa,” Trump said. “And that man was hands up… To me, he looks like he did everything he was supposed to do. And it looked like a really good man. Maybe I’m a little clouded, because I saw his family talking about it after the fact. The young officer, I don’t know why… I don’t know what she was thinking.”
Trump was joined in Cleveland by his two most prominent African-American supporters – reality TV personality Omarosa Manigault, who is Trump’s director of African-American outreach, and Dr. Ben Carson, the retired neurosurgeon who lost to Trump in the Republican primary.
African-American Outreach Gets off to Rocky Start
Earlier in the month, Trump made headlines when he campaigned at an African-American church in Detroit. At Great Faith Ministries, Trump showed a rare bout of humility as he read from prepared remarks that called for “a civil rights agenda for our time.” He also framed himself as the candidate who could best “rebuild Detroit” and other struggling black communities across the nation.
Trump’s Detroit visit went a little better than the disastrous rollout of his African-American outreach at an event in North Caroline in August, where he said African Americans should vote for him because “what have you got to lose?,” he said, referencing the poverty, crime-ridden neighborhoods that he says African Americans live in. At the time, many questioned the sincerity of Trump’s outreach given that he made such speeches in front of predominately white audiences.
Last week during a visit to Flint, Michigan, Trump was booed by protesters outside and was interrupted during his remarks at the Bethel United Methodist Church after he broke away from an agreement not to make a political speech. Instead, he was supposed to discuss the problems of Flint, such as its water and jobs crisis.
Some political strategists have wondered why Trump is even bothering with trying to woo African Americans. After all, Trump is only pulling 1 percent of the African-American vote, compared to the 5 percent Mitt Romney drew in the 2012 election. What’s more, Trump doesn’t have a long history of supporting African American causes, and was even sued in the 1970’s for racial discrimination at some of the properties he owned.
Nevertheless, there Trump was in Cleveland, cracking a huge smirk as King used the politically incorrect term “negro” several times before dropping the n-word. While we’re not sure where Trump’s African-American tour is headed next, we can be certain it won’t be without the strange, awkward moments that has followed on every stop thus far.
Watching video of Don King using the n-word at Trump event