Donald Trump tried to pitch himself to black voters in Detroit on Saturday by giving a subdued 12-minute speech in his first visit of the campaign to a black church.
“We’re all brothers and sisters,” Trump told the crowd at Great Faith Ministries. “I’m here to listen.”
Trump invoked the standard Republican saying that the party is the party of Lincoln. “It is on his legacy that I hope to build the future of the party but more importantly the future of the country.”
Trump said he "fully understands" that black Americans have suffered from discrimination. To be fair, this could be true, since he was investigated in 1973 by Nixon administration for discrimination in his New York City developments.
Trump highlighted his support from Omarosa Manigualt (the former Apprentice contestant who is now the director of African-American Outreach for Trump) and former Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson (who Trump once called “pathological” and likened to a child molester). Carson, a Detroit native, and Trump also went on a tour of the city (although later reports indicated the pair only stopped at Carson's childhood home). No matter the outcome of Saturday’s events, it’s an uphill battle for Trump in Detroit: According to a poll last month by the Detroit Free Press, Clinton has 92% of the vote and 8% are undecided.
Saturday’s visit seemed to diverge from Trump's pitch from a few weeks ago to black voters as "what do you have a to lose," which was also a seemingly change in strategy from pretending his dismal numbers among black Americans didn’t exist.
Trump is polling at around one percent nationally with black voters, although if his campaign continues its refusal to believe polls and instead believe rally crowds, Saturday’s event will surely be considered a success.
In what has become typical of the Trump campaign, Saturday’s event had some snafus. Ahead of Saturday’s service, Trump and Bishop Wayne T. Jackson gave an interview to be aired on Jackson’s Impact Network. The New York Times obtained a leaked copy of the questions Jackson planned to ask and the responses Trump’s aides had crafted for him.
There were protests outside the church leading up to Trump's arrival. Protesters chanted "what do we have to lose? Everything." Detroit's mayor, Mike Duggan, called Trump "the most phony major party candidate I've seen in my lifetime."