A brief history of Trump and African-Americans on the trail

Story highlights

  • Trump is overwhelmingly losing the black vote to Hillary Clinton
  • He has recently begun to reach out to African-Americans for their vote

Washington (CNN)Donald Trump developed a new campaign pitch this week, arguing that African-Americans have been struggling and taken for granted by the Democratic Party and thus should consider a different direction this November.

"You're living in poverty, your schools are no good, you have no jobs, 58% of your youth is unemployed -- what the hell do you have to lose?" Trump told an audience Friday in Dimondale, Michigan. (A recent CNNMoney Reality Check has found Trump's 58% statistic to be true, but misleading.)
    In the same speech, he predicted that were he to run for re-election after a first term, he would capture 95% of the African-American vote. The next day, in Fredericksburg, Virginia, Trump acknowledged the GOP's longtime unpopularity with black voters and said he wanted the party to "be the home of the African-American voter once again."
    But his historically low support among black voters and a series of stumbles throughout his campaign suggest he will have some work to do. A new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll found Hillary Clinton beating him among that demographic 91% to 1%.
    Here's a brief look at Trump's history with African-Americans on the campaign trail.

    'Diamond' and 'Silk'

    Two of Trump's earliest supporters were a pair of African-American women, Lynnette "Diamond" Hardaway and Rochelle "Silk" Richardson, who became almost instant YouTube stars after posting their "Stump for Trump" videos early in his campaign.
    Trump soon began touting them at his rallies and even bringing them on stage with him a few times, cementing their celebrity status.

    'Maybe he should have been roughed up'

    After a Black Lives Matter protester was shoved to the ground and beaten by a half-dozen white Trump supporters at a rally last November, Trump said on Fox News, "Maybe he should have been roughed up because it was absolutely disgusting what he was doing."
    Trump later said he did not condone the physical confrontation.

    100 black pastors

    Shortly after the BLM protester was beaten at one of his rallies, Trump announced that he would meet with a large group of black pastors in New York, where they would endorse him. His campaign initially trumpeted the event, but several black pastors invited to the gathering quickly rebutted the endorsement talk, with one calling him an "insult and embarrassment."
    This forced the cancellation of a planned press conference and left Trump in an awkward spot. But he still held the event and highlighted the black pastors who he said were supporting him.
    "I saw love in that room. I see love everywhere I go," Trump said.

    David Duke and Trump's 'bad earpiece'

    In the thick of the Republican primaries, Trump received the support of former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke. But rather than immediately denounce Duke, Trump claimed to CNN's Jake Tapper that he did not know him or his affiliations. Trump later blamed his answer on a "bad earpiece."

    Sucker punch

    At a March rally in North Carolina, a white Trump supporter was charged with assault after video captured him sucker-punching a black protester. Only a few weeks earlier, Trump had been criticized for urging his supporters to "knock the crap out of" anybody "getting ready to throw a tomato" and vowed to pay for their legal fees should they face charges.
    "Knock the crap out of them, would you? Seriously. OK? Just knock the hell -- I promise you, I will pay for the legal fees. I promise, I promise," Trump said.

    'Look at my African-American over here'

    While Trump was talking in June about the fallout from the sucker-punch incident at the North Carolina rally, he mentioned how a black supporter of his punched and kicked a white protester at a separate rally soon after. He attempted to point out how much African-American support he had by acknowledging a black supporter in the crowd and saying, "Oh, look at my African-American over here. Look at him."

    Trump hires Omarosa for outreach

    Trump last month hired former "Apprentice" star Omarosa Manigault to be his outreach director to black voters. Manigault, who had been a Democrat and supporter of Clinton and President Barack Obama, told NPR she had a 76-page outreach strategy.
    "He had no idea, until he started running, how many young black men and women were dying in the streets of Chicago," Manigault told NPR. "And so those are issues that I not only advise him on -- that these are things that have to stop, that we have to find ways to make sure that the value of black lives in inner cities around this country is elevated."

    The Central Park Five

    One of Trump's earliest political supporters, Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, on Thursday unearthed a nearly 30-year-old controversy: the mogul's 1989 call to "bring back the death penalty" in light of the so-called "Central Park Five" case concerning the rape of a white Central Park jogger. Five black and Hispanic teens were falsely convicted in the crime and later exonerated, but Sessions said Trump's push to reinstate capital punishment in the Empire State proved he's long been tough on crime.