Donald Trump on Wednesday pledged what he called a “new deal for black America” as he attempted to make late inroads with a voting bloc that polling shows favors Democrat Hillary Clinton by a vast margin.
“I will be your greatest champion,” Trump said during an campaign rally here. “I will never ever take the African American community for granted. Never, ever.”
In a scripted speech heavy on policy specifics, the Republican presidential nominee laid out a plan that he said is built on setting up better schools, lowering crime in inner cities and creating more high-paying jobs.
He told the largely white audience that “massive numbers” of black Americans have been ignored and left behind, and he blamed Democrats and Clinton for the “crippling crime and total violence” in the nation’s inner cities.
Trump was speaking in a city that was rocked by protests last month after police killed an unarmed black man. In his speech, he accused Clinton of waging a “war on police” that he said puts black lives at risk, and he called for police and residents to work together.
The GOP nominee pledged to remove gang members from inner cities and continued to falsely assert that the national murder rate is the highest it has been in 45 years.
“Some of our inner cities are more dangerous than the war zones we’re reading about and seeing about every night,” Trump said.
The real estate mogul said he wants to allow cities and states to declare disaster areas in blighted communities and give microloans to black entrepreneurs to help spur jobs. He championed school choice, which he called the “great civil rights issue of our time,” and increased funding for historically black colleges and universities.
He proposed tax holidays for inner-city investment and incentives for foreign companies to invest in “blighted American neighborhoods,” though Trump did not say what they were.
Trump later campaigned in Kinston, N.C., rallying an overwhelmingly white audience in a city that is about 68 percent black.
Trump’s candidacy is barely registering with African American voters. He had 3 percent support among African Americans in an ABC News tracking poll released Sunday, compared with Clinton’s 82 percent. Romney had 6 percent support among African Americans in 2012.
Toward the end of his speech, Trump also took a shot at a long-vanquished Republican rival as he slammed Clinton.
“She has less energy than Jeb Bush,” Trump said, saying he had brought up Bush because he didn’t live up to his pledge to support the eventual Republican nominee.
During the primary, Trump had disparagingly called Bush “low energy.” A Bush spokeswoman said Trump continues to be fixated on the former Florida governor.
“Donald Trump’s unending obsession with Governor Bush is very sad. Donald Trump should be focused on his current race — he certainly needs all the help he can get,” Kristy Campbell said in an email.