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Story highlights

Donald Trump hasn't yet held a rally in front of a largely African-American audience

Trump linked the death of Dwyane Wade's cousin to African-Americans voting for him

Washington CNN —  

Donald Trump’s campaign manager said Sunday he will soon be courting black voters more directly, scheduling events in front of predominantly African-American audiences.

“Those events are actually being planned, and we’re very excited about them,” Kellyanne Conway told “Fox News Sunday,” acknowledging that Trump so far hasn’t yet held a rally in front of a largely black audience.

Such a move could help blunt criticism from figures like the head of the Democratic National Committee, who blasted Trump on Sunday for failing to reach out directly to black voters.

“Donald Trump has not held an event in the black community,” DNC interim chairwoman Donna Brazile said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.”

“He has not gone to a black church, as Hillary Clinton has done,” she said. “He’s not gone to historical black colleges – Hillary Clinton (has). He’s not met with the mothers of children who have been slain and killed from violence in the country as Hillary Clinton has done.”

Brazile’s criticism, and Conway’s pledge for new events, comes after Trump had linked the shooting death of basketball star Dwyane Wade’s cousin to his efforts to reach black voters in a tweet Saturday.

“Dwyane Wade’s cousin was just shot and killed walking her baby in Chicago. Just what I have been saying. African-Americans will VOTE TRUMP!” Trump wrote.

Trump running mate Mike Pence defended that tweet – for which Trump has faced criticism for immediately linking a shooting death to politics – in an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union” Sunday.

“The truth of the matter is, Donald Trump is laying out in that tweet – in short form; it is, what, 140 characters – that we have a choice to make as a country,” Pence said.

“We can continue with the leadership that has left us with dangerous streets in our cities, failing schools, no jobs,” he said. “Or, we can go with someone who is committed to educational choice for minority families and families all across this country; for a commitment to law and order and standing with and standing by our law enforcement community; committed to bringing jobs and opportunity and hope to every American, regardless of race and creed and color.”

Trump made a stark pitch earlier this month to African-American voters in Michigan, saying of voting for him: “What the hell do you have to lose?”

But the firebrand GOP candidate has struggled with winning over minority voters.

Trump was at 2% support among African-American voters and 26% among Hispanics in a recent Pew Research poll. A recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll shows Clinton beating Trump 91%-1% among African-Americans. A Monmouth poll this month found that Trump only picked up 10% of non-white voters.

Some Republicans, including pollster Whit Ayres, have said Trump’s outreach to African-American voters has more to do with bolstering his image among white voters who are uncomfortable with his campaign.

“After 15 months of denigrating every nonwhite minority in sight, it’s hard to believe that he can actually do significantly better among nonwhites,” Ayres recently told National Public Radio. “But he may be able to soften his image a bit with some Republican and maybe a few independent whites who have been put off by his harshness thus far.”