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Donald Trump plans Detroit visit in September

Chad Livengood, and Jonathan Oosting

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is planning a visit to Detroit in early September as part of a new effort to make inroads with African-American voters who traditionally vote Democratic, according to a Trump campaign adviser.

The Trump campaign adviser, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed planning is in the works for Trump to visit the Motor City with Detroit native Dr. Ben Carson.

Carson, a famed retired neurosurgeon who grew up in southwest Detroit, has become a close ally to Trump since ending his own White House campaign days before Michigan’s March 8 primary.

Trump’s new play for votes in the African-American community began last week in campaign rallies across the country, including one in suburban Lansing on Friday when he made a direct appeal to black voters before a mostly white audience.

“What do you have to lose?” Trump bluntly asked black voters during a rally in Dimondale. “You’re living in poverty, your schools are no good, you have no jobs, 58 percent of your youth is unemployed. What the hell do you have to lose?”

Trump’s portrayal of the state of blacks in urban cities has prompted rebukes from rival Hillary Clinton’s campaign and her fellow Democrats.

U.S. Rep. Brenda Lawrence, D-Southfield, said Tuesday she was “insulted” by Trump’s pitch to African-American voters in suburban Lansing.

“What that told me clearly is that when Donald Trump sees my face, an African-American woman, that he sees a person who’s uneducated, a person who is not employed and a person who is poor,” Lawrence said in a conference call with reporters. “That’s how out of touch this person, who wants to be our president, is.”

The planning of Trump’s trip to Detroit and tour of impoverished neighborhoods with Carson was first reported Tuesday night by The Washington Post.

Carson, who is black, defended Trump’s decision to talk about improving the lives of black Americans before mostly white crowds.

“It’s wise before you start going into these places to put things out there for people to cogitate about, and not just walk into an environment where people might be so hostile they won’t listen to you,” Carson told The Post. “That’s what he has been doing: prepping the ground for what’s to come.”

Trump faces big hurdles in urban areas where Democrat Hillary Clinton has close ties to black leaders dating back to her husband’s presidency.

A Detroit News/WDIV-TV statewide poll conducted last month found 87 percent of Detroiters have an unfavorable view of Trump. Nearly 80 percent of Detroiters surveyed for the poll had a favorable view of Clinton.

Carson, who is now advising the Trump campaign, said in an interview last month at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland that efforts were underway to strengthen the New York billionaire’s appeal to black voters.

“He needs to specifically reach out to them and talk about the programs that we’ve been talking about that empower people, rather than things that just sort of keep people satisfied in a rather dependent position,” Carson told The Detroit News. “You’ll see that coming out.”

clivengood@detroitnews.com

(517) 371-3661

Twitter: @ChadLivengood