Protests outside black Detroit church hosting Trump
“The devil’s in the pulpit,” shouted Wyoman Mitchell, one of about 150 protesters who charged police barricades outside the black Great Faith Ministries International church.
Chanting “Dump Trump” and “We’re going to church,” the protesters attempted to push over the metal barricades to gain entry to the suburban church, but were impeded by police on horseback and on foot.
It was unclear whether Trump was in the church during the commotion. Reporters were kept out of the church, except those traveling with the candidate.
Church pastor Wayne Jackson had invited the New York billionaire to attend a fellowship service, and possibly make some remarks at the end.
The visit is a high-profile stop in Trump’s recent bid to offset the overwhelming advantage his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton enjoys among African American voters, who make up 12 percent of the electorate.
– Charm offensive –
The charm offensive has been met with skepticism, but some analysts say it could make a difference in certain swing states.
His pitch so far has been a crude appeal to self-interest.
“What do you have to lose?” he said, addressing African Americans in a speech in Ohio less than two weeks ago to an overwhelmingly white audience.
“They don’t care about you. They just like you once every four years — get your vote and then they say: ‘Bye, bye!'” he said.
To bolster his case, Trump points at the Democratic stance on immigration, claiming his rival would rather give jobs to new refugees than unemployed black youth.
The African-American electorate traditionally leans heavily Democratic.
In 2012, about 93 percent of black voters backed Obama — an overwhelming enthusiasm that Clinton appears to have kept alive, taking 90 percent of the black vote in her primary contest against Bernie Sanders.
Detroit has the highest percentage of black residents — more than 80 percent — of any large American city.
Many neighborhoods have been hollowed out by decades of “white flight,” in which Caucasian families left downtown and midtown for more affluent suburbs.
Trump was supposed to sit down for a televised interview with Jackson, and then attend the service.
Excerpts from an eight-page working Trump campaign document published Thursday by The New York Times give a taste of the scripted interview questions and the answers drafted by Trump’s advisers.
The scripted responses seek to strike a presidential tone, pledging to approach the office “with the utmost wisdom” and to “serve all Americans without regard to race, ethnicity or any other qualification.”
Jackson has confirmed he submitted questions in advance, but said they were liable to change — and strongly denied he was working hand-in-hand with Team Trump.
“He has made statements and his statements are that I want to make the black community better,” Jackson told CNN. “So we want to know the answers. We want to know how you are going to do that.”
“There’s a lot of perception out there that there’s a lot of racist people that are following his campaign,” he added.
“These are questions that we’re going to ask. And then when it’s all said and done, then let the people decide.”
Democrats regularly remind voters that Trump’s backers include former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke — although the candidate has publicly rejected the extreme-right endorsement.
They also point out that Trump spearheaded the dubious “birther” movement which sought — with backing from the Republican Party’s right wing — to cast doubt on the nationality of Obama, America’s first black president.
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