Trump Pledges 'New Deal' For African Americans
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump made what amounts to a closing argument during Wednesday's visit to uptown Charlotte. It was an attempt to woo a group of voters who, so far, have largely not been in his camp.
The music was different from a usual Trump event. Piano and bagpipes instead of the Rolling Stones. The size of the crowd was different, too. There were some 500 invited guests.
The soothing tones did little to keep them from getting restless. Their candidate was more than 40 minutes late. Delayed because Trump said he was talking, and listening, to leaders of a community that looks very different from the largely white crowd.
"Today," Trump said, "I want to talk about how to grow the African-American middle class and to provide a new deal for black America."
With a markedly controlled tone, sticking closely to a script displayed on a teleprompter, Trump then laid out his plan to revitalize America’s inner cities. "That deal is grounded in three promises. Safe communities, great education and high paying jobs."
Trump then blamed all the problems in the inner cities and African-American communities on what he sees as the bad policies and broken promises of Democrats in general and Democratic rival Hillary Clinton in particular. Take crime. Trump said he won’t just put more cops on the streets.
"I promise that under a Trump administration the law will be applied fairly, equally and without prejudice."
In the first presidential debate he called for more police forces to use “stop and frisk,” a technique critics call a form of racial profiling. A federal judge has ruled its use unconstitutional in New York.
As for schools, Trump said he would redirect school funding towards charter schools, private schools and home schools. He did not explain that further.
Trump alleges good paying jobs have simply been stolen by two of his favorite foes, NAFTA, which shifted jobs south, and illegal workers who came north.
"No group has been economically harmed by decades of illegal immigration than African-American workers." He then added, "We will restore the civil rights of African-Americans, Hispanic Americans and all Americans by ending illegal immigration. And yes we will build the wall," generating some of the loudest cheers.
Trump promised more building as well. A $1 trillion infrastructure rebuilding plan with inner cities as a key target.
"I will also propose tax holidays for inner city investment, a new tax incentive to get foreign companies to relocate in blighted American neighborhoods."
And a plan to allow cities to seek a federal disaster designation in order to get money to tear down blighted buildings and start reconstruction projects.
Now all of this would come with an enormous price tag. Paid for, in part, Trump claims, by taking money that would be used to resettle refugees in America and "I will also cancel all wasteful climate change spending from Obama-Clinton."
Something he claims would amount to $100 billion over eight years, though he gave no further details on how he got that number.
This speech was given before a largely white crowd. They loved it. But what about African-American voters? They were the real target of this speech. What is their level of support for Trump to date?
"Is the word abysmal, um, acceptable?" asks Michael Bitzer, a political scientist at Catawba College.
Polls show the Trump campaign is getting "Less than five percent nationally. Here in North Carolina it may be a little bit higher," Bitzer says, but still in the single digits.
And African-American voters have been the most loyal of all voting blocks, says Bitzer. "They can be up to 90 or 95 percent voting for Democratic candidates."
Barack Obama needed record black turnout to win North Carolina in 2008. Near-record turnout wasn’t enough for Obama in 2012 when Mitt Romney took the state.
2016 looks to be another nail biter.