Trump campaign opens Detroit office to woo black voters

Leonard N. Fleming
The Detroit News

In an attempt to win more black support for his re-election, President Donald Trump's campaign said Wednesday it is opening 15 "Black Voices for Trump Community Centers" across the country including Detroit.

Seeking to play on the nation's growing economy and a record low black unemployment rate, the Trump campaign said it believes that it can go "where no other Republican campaigns have gone before to ensure that the president's message is heard."

President Donald Trump reacts as Alice Johnson, an inmate whose life sentence was commuted thanks in part to the efforts of Kim Kardashian West, right, thanks the media while speaking at the 2019 Prison Reform Summit and First Step Act Celebration in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Monday, April 1, 2019.

Other Trump centers will open in cities such as Philadelphia, Atlanta, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Milwaukee, Charlotte and Miami.

"President Trump has uplifted every community in America, regardless of race or creed, and we are working hard to make sure every voter knows the facts," said Katrina Pierson, a senior adviser for the Trump campaign, in a statement. "This administration has delivered record-low minority unemployment rates, criminal justice reform, school choice, and the largest investment in HBCUs ever. Our Black Voices for Trump Community Centers will make sure that black Americans hear the facts about President Trump, directly from our campaign."

The campaign's move is "very encouraging," said Wayne Bradley, a GOP political consultant who was once the Michigan Republican Party's director of minority engagement.

"At the end of the day, people are curious in these communities to know more about what President Trump has done," Bradley said. "I think that it's a good effort to go out there and try and earn that black vote."

Trump netted 8% of black voters nationwide in 2016, according to Gallup, which was a slight uptick from what Mitt Romney garnered in 2012 against President Barack Obama. The campaign believes that it can grow that number above 10%.

In Detroit in 2016, Democrat Hillary Clinton won African-American-dominated Detroit over Trump, 95% to 3%. By contrast, Romney lost Detroit 98% to 2% to Obama in 2012.

Rev. Keith Barr, the pastor of Rochester Hills Christian Center, said it's important for black Republicans to "talk and communicate" with others to give another side to Trump.

"It always amazes me that people have attacked some of us ministers for talking to President Trump," Barr said. "As a minister, I talk to everybody. I try to win men's souls. So communication is very important."

Trump's support among blacks, particularly in Michigan is getting stronger because "for most people it's all about the Benjamins. So many people are doing better," he said.

Bradley said "just a small percentage could make a difference in this election" against the eventual Democratic nominee.

"I generally believe that more black people are going to vote for Trump this time around and I think it's good that he's creating hubs in inner cities that will give folks a chance to interact together and maybe see that they are not the only ones," he said.

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