Trump plans to stick to urban visits, unveil jobs plan

Chad Livengood and Leonard N. Fleming
The Detroit News

Detroit — Republican Donald Trump plans to return to the urban campaign trail this fall to unveil a new plan to attract employers to cities like Detroit with high unemployment rates and travel to water-crisis-stricken Flint.

Trump said Saturday that his appeal for support from African-Americans in Detroit is tied to the cornerstone of his outsider bid for the White House — a complete overhaul of international trade agreements he blames for gutting inner cities.

“That’s a big part of what I’m doing in terms of outreach,” Trump said in a Saturday interview with The Detroit News after he addressed black congregants at Great Faith Ministries International Church on Grand River Avenue.

Presidential candidate Donald Trump and ‘The Apprentice’s’ Omarosa Manigault visit the childhood home of Ben Carson, right, speaking to current homeowner Felicia Reese, left, in Detroit on Saturday September 3, 2016.

The New York billionaire businessman said he will detail plans in the next three to four weeks to create “enterprise zones” to give business tax incentives to relocate to cities like Detroit that he says “are suffering greatly.”

“No jobs, tremendous crime, bad education and we’re going to take care of the African-American population, which has really been mistreated,” Trump said. “They’ve been promised so much, Hispanics have been promised so much – and nothing ever happens.”

Trump also told The News he intends to tour of Flint “at some point” in the fall campaign against Democrat Hillary Clinton, who highlighted the city’s lead-tainted water this past winter and criticized Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder’s handling of the crisis.

“I think it’s a horror show that it was allowed to happen and, to be honest with you, it should have never, ever been allowed to happen,” Trump said of Flint’s water crisis. “I will be visiting Flint. This is a situation that would have never happened if I were president.”

On the campaign trail in recent weeks, Trump has spoken about black poverty in more blunt terms, asking African-American voters in front of crowds of mostly white voters, “What the hell do you have to lose?”

But on Saturday, Trump took a softer approach when addressing Bishop Wayne T. Jackson’s almost entirely African-American congregation in Detroit, a city Democrat Hillary Clinton is heavily favored to sweep on Election Day.

“I believe that we need a civil rights agenda for our time. One that ensures the rights to a great education — so important — and the right to live in safety and in peace and to have a really, really great job,” Trump said. “A good-paying job and one that you love going to every morning. That can happen. We need to bring our companies back.”

Trump sat in worship service with Omarosa Manigault, a villain from his “The Apprentice” reality television series and his director of African-American outreach. The New York businessman and Presbyterian could be seen swaying to the gospel music with Omarosa, who was seated next to him.

Before Trump addressed the congregation, he met with a small group of church members. Jackson also interviewed him for a show that will air at 9 p.m. Thursday on Jackson’s Impact Network.

“I met some people this morning that are incredible people, and they’re looking for jobs,” he said. “These are incredible people . . . young people. Our whole country loses out when we’re unable to harness the brilliance and the energy of these folks.”

Trump has blamed the loss of jobs in inner cities, in part, on trade agreements like the North American Free Trade Agreement, a 23-year-old pact with Mexico and Canada that was signed by former President Bill Clinton, who will be in Detroit on Monday for the annual Labor Day parade.

After the service, adviser and former Republican presidential hopeful Dr. Ben Carson took Trump on a short tour of his southwest Detroit neighborhood that included his childhood home, a bungalow on Deacon Street. They briefly spoke with the homeowner, Felicia Reese.

The Clinton campaign attacked the Trump appearance as a sham.

“Donald Trump’s visit to Detroit is tantamount to a wolf visiting a sheep farm to lead a discussion on Let Me Be Your Leader To Greener Pastures,” said the Rev. Dr. Wendell Anthony, president of the Detroit chapter of the NAACP, in a statement released by the Clinton campaign.

“He is talking over, around and through black people but not to black people. He should apologize, repent, re-align and retreat from his divisive non-presidential behavior.”

Trump’s bold stroke to court black support was greeted with skepticism and openness among those who attended.

When asked if Trump had changed her mind, N. Porchia of Clinton Township rolled her eyes and shook her head.

“If I can be honest, I feel like it wasn’t enough, said Porchia, 41. “If you say one thing, so many bad things, and you come to say this one thing, it doesn’t erase what you’ve already said and what you’ve already done.

“I do appreciate his attempt. But there’s an open wound there. It wasn’t authentic, not to me.”

Pauline Bell-Bray, 56, said although Trump gave a “wonderful speech,” she wasn’t persuaded and will probably support Clinton.

“Neither one of them are focusing on inner-city issues,” she said. “There are broken homes. We don’t have enough training for these children. I will be voting for Hillary, but she’s not going to do a miracle for us. Our help is within us.”

But Alphonso Wallace, 44, a real estate developer from West Bloomfield, said Trump seemed sincere and thought black Detroiters may give the candidate a chance.

“Actions speak louder than words,” said Wallace, an undecided voter.

“By reaching out to the African-American community, he’s starting to learn that, you know what, these are good people, they have a great heritage and maybe what I thought I knew, I did not know,” he said. “He’s been able to meet quite a few of us, and I think it’s put him at ease.”

Anthony Nixon, 26, who lives not far from the church, said he was impressed with Trump’s willingness to speak directly to black voters when other Republican candidates haven’t.

Clinton has been going “overboard” to win the black vote in a way that doesn’t seem authentic, said Nixon, who is undecided, so he’s willing to give the real estate developer a chance to win his vote.

“Him coming here says a lot,” he said. “Now we’ll see what happens going forward.”

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Twitter: @ChadLivengood