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Story highlights

Donald Trump has tried to reach out to black voters

President Barack Obama has slammed the GOP nominee for those type of comments

(CNN) —  

Donald Trump thinks black communities in the US are “absolutely in the worst shape that they’ve ever been in before.”

Trump made the comment as he rallied supporters here on Tuesday and made his usual “what do you have to lose” pitch to African-American voters – few of whom attended his rally in this rural part of this battleground state.

“We’re going to rebuild our inner cities because our African-American communities are absolutely in the worst shape that they’ve ever been in before. Ever. Ever. Ever,” Trump said to approving nods from the nearly all-white crowd.

“You take a look at the inner cities, you get no education, you get no jobs, you get shot walking down the street. They’re worse – I mean, honestly, places like Afghanistan are safer than some of our inner cities,” he continued. “And I think it’s resonating.”

His comments came despite the fact that African-Americans in the US have faced dramatically worse circumstances throughout history – from slavery to Jim Crow laws.

President Barack Obama, the first black US president, took on similar assertions by Trump last Saturday while speaking Congressional Black Caucus gala.

“You may have heard Hillary’s opponent in this election say that there’s never been a worse time to be a black person. I mean, he missed that whole civics lesson about slavery or Jim Crow,” Obama had said. “But we’ve got a museum for him to visit, so he can tune in. We will educate him.”

In harsh rebuke of Trump, Obama referred to the businessman as “somebody who has fought against civil rights and fought against equality and who has shown no regard for working people most of his life.”

On Trump’s quest to win over African-American voters, Obama quipped: “Well, we do have challenges, but we’re not stupid.”

The Republican nominee has made a concerted effort to reach out to black voters over the last month, including visiting a predominantly black church in Detroit, and visiting the water plant and a church in the majority-black city of Flint, Michigan.

But his visit to Flint was marred in controversy after the church’s pastor interrupted Trump to keep him from leveling political attacks. He was also met with hecklers there who called out his record as a landlord in New York, where he faced a civil rights lawsuit from the Justice Department in 1973 – which Trump settled – alleging he discriminated against black tenants.

Critics have also panned Trump’s outreach to African-Americans for painting the lives of black Americans in broad-brushed and bleak terms.

Trump has argued that black voters should flock to his candidacy because he will “fix it” and has slammed his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton for seeing black Americans as votes, not as people – even though she has a history of championing civil rights issues and more than 9-in-10 African-Americans support Clinton, according to recent polling.

Trump’s support with African-Americans stands in the low single digits according to recent national polls.

Despite his words aimed at drawing black voters to his campaign, Trump on Tuesday did not address the most police recent shooting of an unarmed African-African American man. Terence Crutcher, a 40-year-old black man, was shot by police Friday night in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Clinton addressed the shooting earlier Tueaday on “The Steve Harvey Morning Show,” calling it “unbearable” and arguing for the need to “tackle systemic racism.”