Donald Trump on Saturday blamed the GOP for failing to do enough to address the concerns of black voters.
“In recent days, across this country, I’ve asked the African-American community to honor me with their vote,” Trump said at a rally in Fredericksburg, Virginia. “I fully recognize that outreach to the African-American community is an area where the Republican Party must do better.”
As Trump’s own words suggest, his personal appeal to African Americans has come quite late in his presidential campaign. The real estate mogul has struggled to make inroads among minority voters, polling as low as 1 percent among black Americans in some polls and 14 percent among Latinos.
In the past week, he has taken his message to black voters in majority-white cities including Fredericksburg, West Bend, Wisconsin and Dimondale, Michigan.
“The GOP is the party of Abraham Lincoln and I want our party to be the home of the African-American voter once again,” Trump said in Virginia on Saturday, to cheers from an overwhelmingly white crowd.
Trump argues that Hillary Clinton and the Democratic party has pandered to black Americans for their votes, but hasn’t substantially improved the circumstances of those living in poverty.
“What do you have to lose? What do you have to lose? You’re living in poverty, your schools are no good. You have no jobs — 58 percent of your youth is unemployed,” Trump said Friday in Dimondale. “What the hell do you have to lose?”
According to Politifact, the jobless rate for African Americans between 16 to 24 was under 19 percent.
Though Trump has blamed his own party for a failure to appeal to black voters, his new rhetorical efforts to make inroads with minorities has won praise from GOP leaders.
“Donald Trump has been disciplined and mature. And I think he’s going to get this thing back on track,” Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus said on ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday.
Trump last week offered a vague expression of “regret” for making offensive comments on the campaign trail, and on Saturday held a roundtable with Hispanic leaders in New York.