ATLANTA (AP) — During the 2016 campaign, candidate Donald Trump stood in front of largely white crowds and asked black voters to consider, “What the hell do you have to lose?”
Four years later, the president has a new message for black voters: Look what I’ve delivered.
Trump and his campaign launched a new “Black Voices for Trump” outreach initiative in Atlanta on Friday dedicated to “recruiting and activating Black Americans in support of President Trump,” according to the campaign. Much of that effort will focus on highlighting ways that African Americans have benefited from the Trump economy, according to advisers.
“The support we’re getting from the African American community has been overwhelming,” Trump told the crowd, which included supporters wearing red “BLACK LIVES MAGA” hats.
He predicted victory in 2020, and said, “We’re going to do it with a groundswell of support from hardworking African American patriots.”
That prediction is met with skepticism from critics, however, given Trump’s consistently dismal approval rating with black voters, who overwhelmingly disapprove of the job he’s doing.
Trump has spent much of the last four years engaged in racially charged attacks, going after minority members of Congress, claiming “no human being” would want to live in rat “infested,” majority-minority Baltimore and claiming that there were “very fine people on both sides” of the deadly Charlottesville protest against white supremacists.
Shortly after landing in Georgia on Friday, Trump retweeted a call from one black supporter for submissions for a “#MAGACHALLENGE” competition featuring Trump-friendly rap songs. Trump said he would be announcing the winners and inviting them to the White House to meet with him and perform.
“I think black Americans are not the audience for these outreach efforts,” said Theodore Johnson, a senior fellow at the Brennan Center for Justice who is an expert in race and politics. While Trump might be able to maintain the low level of black support he received in 2016, or perhaps expand it by one or two points, he sees little evidence the president can change many minds.