Trump Courts Black Voters at Detroit Event

Trump Courts Black Voters at Detroit Event
Republican presidential candidate and former President Donald Trump (C) participates in a community roundtable at the 180 Church in Detroit, Mich., on June 15, 2024. (Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images)

DETROIT—Former President Donald Trump attempted to bolster support among black voters by announcing on June 15 “Black Americans for Trump,” a collection of endorsements from elected officials, athletes, entertainers, community leaders, and pastors.

The former president made the announcement at 180 Church, an African American congregation whose website states, “The Church is God’s solution to complex problems of Urban America.”

Former President Trump sought to present himself as a better alternative for black voters than President Joe Biden. He said the black community “is being hurt” by people who are in the country illegally. “They’re taking your jobs,” he said.

Lorenzo Sewell, senior pastor of the church, which also conducts ministries in Pontiac, Flint, and Saginaw, said he welcomed the former president’s effort to bring change to impoverished communities where people routinely face the choice between paying rent, repairing their car, and paying child support.

“We’ve had Democrats running [Detroit] for 56 years,” Mr. Sewell told The Epoch Times. “I’m not saying Democrats are wrong. I’m just asking, ‘Where’s the change?'”

Growing Support

While Black voters have historically favored Democratic candidates, recent polls have indicated declining support.

A May New York Times/Siena College poll of six swing states found that 23 percent of black voters intended to vote for former President Trump. An April poll from The Wall Street Journal showed that 30 percent of black men in seven battleground states planned to vote for the presumptive Republican nominee.

President Trump won 8 percent of the black vote in 2020. Given that President Joe Biden carried Michigan in 2020 by less than 3 percentage points, even a modest shift among black voters could be significant.

The former president acknowledged the pivotal role that Michigan is likely to play in the November election, saying, “It’s a very important area for us.”

The shift of black voters to the Republican Party is real but has not reached a tipping point, Karla Butler of Toledo, Ohio, told The Epoch Times. Ms. Butler leads a chapter of Blexit, an organization she said aims to teach conservative principles to “bring the black community to be victors, [not] victims.”

Mr. Sewell said the shift could be enough to swing the election in this state. “He’s not going to win Wayne County, but he can overperform and he can win Michigan.”

Endorsers of the former president include prominent black leaders such as Dr. Alveda King, chair of the Center for the American Dream, who wrote in a campaign message, “Ever praying for my friend and forever President Donald John Trump. His support for our communities; life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness and beyond, is unmatched.”

Voter Mobilization

Later in the day, former President Trump appeared at a conference held by Turning Point Action (TPA), an event aimed at motivating and enlisting volunteers for get-out-the-vote and election integrity efforts in battleground states.

The TPA event’s audience of some 8,000 attendees was predominantly white, though it featured several high-profile black speakers, including former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson and Mr. Donalds, both of whom also appeared with the former president at 180 Church.

Mr. Carson echoed the theme of turning away from liberal politics to embrace conservatism. He spoke of the need to seek opportunity over victimhood. Voters should be easily motivated to choose former President Trump, he said, “All we have to do is get people to open their eyes and see what’s going on.”

“I know President Trump’s heart, and I know he is the man to return America to ‘We the People,’” Mr. Carson said.

Michigan Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist II, a Democrat, responded by calling the former president “dangerous.”

At the TPA event, former President Trump didn’t mention the Black Americans for Trump initiative, instead dwelling on familiar themes in his stump speech, such as blaming the current administration for rising prices and the influx of illegal immigrants into the country.

To the audience in this working-class city, the former president renewed his pledge to eliminate income taxes on tips for service workers. “For restaurant workers, or hotel workers, or caddies—its a lot—anyone receiving tips, there’ll be no more taxes,” he said.

The former president told the audience, “We need to watch the vote. We need to guard the vote.”

“What we ultimately want to do is want to go to paper ballots, one-day voting, paper ID,” he said.

From The Epoch Times