President Donald Trump has organised a desperate election offensive across the US in an effort to bolster support.
The blitz includes selfies on a ‘Women for Trump’ bus tour through Iowa, volunteer training at a ‘Black Voices for Trump’ organising session in Philadelphia, a vice presidential headliner at a ‘Latinos for Trump’ event in Florida.
Mr Trump’s top aides fanned out across the country yesterday in a show of force that is part of an aggressive – and uphill – effort to stretch his appeal beyond the base of working-class white voters who propelled him to victory in 2016.
With a recognition that Mr Trump will need to turn out new voters in November to be re-elected, his campaign has dramatically stepped up outreach efforts to various constituencies, including African Americans, Hispanics and women, building a coalition operation that officials believe is the most robust of any Republican campaign in history.
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But there was bad news yesterday as a ‘Washington Post’ poll revealed more than eight in 10 black Americans say they believe Mr Trump is a racist and that he has made racism a bigger problem in the country. Nine in 10 disapprove of his job performance overall.
The pessimism goes well beyond assessments of the president. A 65pc majority of African Americans say it is a “bad time” to be a black person in America. That view is widely shared by clear majorities of black adults across income, generational and political lines. By contrast, 77pc of black Americans say it is a “good time” to be a white person, with a wide majority saying white people don’t understand the discrimination faced by black Americans.
The outreach marks a dramatic departure from 2016, when Mr Trump’s volunteer ‘National Diversity Coalition’ struggled to make an impact.
“There’s no comparison between 2016 and now,” said Trump campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh of the effort.
He described the outreach effort as “a significant department unto itself”, complete with dedicated staff, resources and a budget that is expected to reach tens of millions of dollars.
“These are all well-financed, well-organised coalitions intended to reach out to the voters that they’re targeting. And we know that no Republican campaign or president has ever had as muscular a coalitions outreach,” he said.
The operation was in full force when the president’s daughter-in-law Lara Trump, senior campaign adviser Mercedes Schlapp and press secretary Kayleigh McEnany began a two-day ‘Women for Trump’ bus tour through Iowa aimed at engaging women with training sessions, round tables and panel discussions.
The tour comes less than three weeks before Democrats will begin to cast their first nominating ballots in the state’s kickoff caucuses.
Meanwhile, in must-win Florida, Vice President Mike Pence headlined a ‘Latinos for Trump’ event in Kissimmee at Nación de Fe, an evangelical church with a mostly Latino congregation, as part of his own bus tour.
“We’re going to get four more years and Latinos for Trump are going to lead the way,” he told the about 400 people in attendance, emphasising the country’s low Hispanic unemployment rate and the administration’s anti- abortion stance.
Around the same time in battleground Pennsylvania, a few dozen people filled the pews of First Immanuel Baptist Church in Philadelphia for a ‘Black Voices for Trump’ discussion focused on Mr Trump’s impact on the African American community ahead of a volunteer training session. The church’s pastor opened with a call to “make Pennsylvania great again”.
The flurry of activity, long before Democrats have settled on their nominee, underscores just how dramatically different Mr Trump’s campaign is this time around. While much of Washington has been focused on the upcoming Senate impeachment trial and the ongoing contest between Democrats, the president’s campaign has been on the ground, trying to make the case to voters who may have passed on Mr Trump in 2016.
Mr Trump won just 6pc of black voters last time.
He also lost by wide margins among Hispanics and women, who continue to lag behind men in their support for the president. Nonetheless, Trump allies insist that the president’s support has grown since 2016 in ways that aren’t reflected in traditional polling.
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