WASHINGTON – Donald Trump on Friday continued his outreach to African-American voters, presenting them with a stark question: “What the hell do you have to lose?”
Speaking in Dimondale, Michigan, Trump lamented the collapse of American manufacturing and criticized free trade deals as he laced into Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party, saying they are taking black voters for granted.
“You’re living in poverty, your schools are no good, 58% of your youth are unemployed — what the hell do you have to lose?” Trump asked the audience in an unscripted moment from a speech in which he otherwise stuck to his teleprompter.
He accused Clinton of wanting to give jobs to refugees rather than unemployed African-Americans in the US, saying they have “become refugees in their own country.”
Trump — speaking to an overwhelmingly white audience that featured only a smattering of African-Americans and other minorities — also promised that were he to run for re-election at the end of his first term, he would win 95% of the black vote.
Such support would be a tall order for Trump — a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll shows Clinton beating Trump 91%-1% among African-Americans.
Friday’s speech follows major changes in Trump’s campaign. Earlier in the day, campaign chairman Paul Manafort resigned, and on Wednesday, Trump announced a new campaign manager and CEO. The changes coincided with a startlingly contrite campaign appearance by Trump on Thursday, when he acknowledged that several statements he’s made on the trail have been hurtful to others.
Trump has spent the week appealing to African-American voters in his speeches, saying he would fix poverty in ways that Democrats have been unable to since Lyndon Johnson was in the White House.
At a campaign rally in Charlotte, North Carolina, Thursday night, Trump also appealed to African-Americans, asking them to “give Donald Trump a chance.”
“The result for them will be amazing,” he said. “What do you have to lose by trying something new?”
Trump’s quote quickly became a hashtag on Twitter:
African Americans #WhatTheHellDoYouHaveToLose
Vote Trump 2016
— Diamond and Silk® (@DiamondandSilk) August 19, 2016