Donald Trump on Monday made a last-minute pitch to the “amazing, incredible” Latino community at a rally in Sarasota, Florida, insisting that minority voters would help him secure an election night victory.
Noticing a “Blacks for Trump” sign in the crowd, Trump said “One of the things they are seeing in a couple of these states like Florida, African-Americans are not turning out and when they do, a lot of them are voting for Trump. This is very disturbing to the other side.”
According to the GOP nominee, “the same is going to be true with Hispanics.” Trump pointed to an endorsement from the veterans of the failed 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion as proof, saying “the Cubans gave me the award.”
The real estate mogul praised Florida’s “amazing, incredible Hispanic American community” and promised to be a “friend and champion” to voters from Venezuela, Cuba and Puerto Rico. He pledged to help Cuba “in the fight against the Castro regime” and to support Venezuela in their struggle “for freedom.”
Speaking of the voters he met in Miami’s Little Haiti over the weekend, Trump said, “They are such warm, great people, by the way. Warm, great people. I spent a lot of time with them; they hate the Clintons.”
Trump, who kicked off his presidential campaign last summer with a speech calling Mexican immigrants “criminals” and “rapists,” has struggled to make inroads with minority voters during the 2016 race. Clinton has consistently lead the real estate mogul by over 40 points among Latino voters, and an October CBS poll found his support among likely black voters stalled at 4 percent.
Early voting returns suggest the poll results are playing out at the ballot box. Latino voters are showing up to the polls in record numbers in key swing states like Nevada and Colorado. According to a Bloomberg analysis, of the 1.3 million individuals who voted early in Florida, a must-win state for Trump, 351,000 didn’t vote in 2012 and 47 percent of them were Hispanic.
Turnout is also up from 2012 among African-Americans in many states, except those like North Carolina which have aggressively restricted the number of polling places.
Something went very wrong for African-Americans’ voting in North Carolina pic.twitter.com/ZpwjyEavmd
— Michael McDonald (@ElectProject) November 6, 2016
The “Blacks for Trump” signs that Trump pointed out in Sarasota, and at previous rallies, as proof of his African American support are the work of an eccentric former member of the Yahweh ben Yahweh cult who has embraced the real estate tycoon’s campaign.
“Michael the Black Man,” who also goes by the names Maurice Woodside and Michael Symonette, has established himself as a fixture at Trump’s rallies in the Sunshine State, where he passes out signs featuring the URL to his website Gods2.com. The site is filled with conspiracy videos about Hillary Clinton.
“Michael” was charged for allegedly conspiring in two murders as part of the initiation ritual for the insular cult, whose leader was charged for conspiracy to murder. He was also charged with grand theft auto, threatening a law enforcement officer, and carrying a weapon onto an airplane, but was never convicted.