Donald Trump on Wednesday pitched African-American voters on a “new deal for black America,” painting an excessively bleak and broad-brushed picture of the lives of African-Americans before ticking down a list of policy proposals.
The Republican presidential nominee, once again drawing no distinction between African-Americans living in poverty and the majority of African-Americans who do not, listed a series of largely economic proposals that he claimed would bring economic opportunity to inner cities. After meeting with a group of African-American community leaders, Trump delivered his speech in a church before a mostly white audience.
Trump’s plans for what he called “urban renewal” include expanding opportunities for cities and states to seek a federal disaster designation – typically reserved for natural disasters – to provide for an injection of federal funds “to initiate the rebuilding of vital infrastructure, the demolition of abandoned properties and increased presence of law enforcement.”
He also proposed “tax holidays” to spur inner city investment and a tax break for foreign companies that relocate to “blighted neighborhoods.” And he called for a “21st century Glass Steagall,” though he did not specify what that would look like beyond a reform to the banking law that would prioritize helping African-American owned businesses get loans.
The real estate mogul, speaking in this key battleground state whose residents are 22% black, also proposed allowing those on welfare to convert that government assistance into microloans, a form of financing typically reserve for impoverished entrepreneurs.
Trump also touted his goal of making African-American communities “safe again” – with no details on how to do so – and described black communities as riddled with crime, falsely claiming that murders are at their highest rate in 45 years. This year has seen the biggest one-year increase in murders in that period, but the murder rate still remains dramatically lower than in previous decades.
“I mean you walk to the store to buy a loaf of bread, maybe with your child, and you get shot, your child gets shot,” Trump said.
He also touted his hardline stance on immigration and argued that illegal immigration “violates the civil rights of African-Americans.”
“No group has been more economically harmed by decades of illegal immigration than low income African-American workers,” he said.
Trump also spent some of his time mocking Hillary Clinton, his Democratic rival who enjoys more than 90% support among black voters.
As one man in the audience shouted that Clinton was “useless,” Trump laughed, saying: “I’m not allowed to say it, but I’ll accept it.”
He also quipped that Clinton “has less energy than Jeb Bush” as he knocked her less aggressive campaign travel schedule.
Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway, who sat in the audience for most of Trump’s speech, turned toward this reporter and mouthed “I like that,” with a smile.