Trump: Impeachment boosts his support among blacks

7 mins read
Trump: Impeachment boosts his support among blacks

Former US President Donald Trump said on Friday that four separate criminal prosecutions have boosted his support among Blacks because they see him as a victim of discrimination. Trump compared his legal exposure to the historic legacy of anti-Black bias in the US legal system.

Trump has argued that he is the victim of political persecution, although there is no evidence that President Joe Biden or White House officials influenced the filing of 91 impeachment cases against him.

Earlier in the week, Trump compared himself to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s main rival Alexei Navalny, who died in a remote Arctic prison after being imprisoned by the Kremlin leader.

“I’ve been accused of nothing, of nothing,” Trump said at a black-tie event for black conservatives in South Carolina ahead of Saturday’s Republican primary.

“And a lot of people said that’s why Black people like me, because they feel so hurt and discriminated against and they see me as someone who was discriminated against. It’s quite surprising, but maybe, maybe there’s something in that.”

Trump has focused his third White House campaign on his anger at Biden and allegations of a “deep state” targeting him, despite being accused of attempts to disrupt the 2020 election, possession of classified documents at his Florida mansion and paying off a porn actress.

Since most Republican voters share Trump’s beliefs and he is widely expected to defeat former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley in his home state, he is the leading candidate among Republicans.

Trump also drew attention to his mugshot taken by Georgian authorities after he was indicted on state racketeering charges related to the 2020 election.

“When I did the mug shot in Atlanta, that mug shot is No. 1,” he said, adding: “You know who embraced it more than anyone else? The Black population.”

Trump’s campaign has predicted he can do better with Black voters in November than he did four years ago, citing Biden’s faltering poll numbers with Black adults and what Trump sees as advantages on issues like the economy and the record-high number of people crossing the US-Mexico border, often ending up in cities with large Black populations.

He was flanked on stage at the Black Conservative Federation’s gala in Columbia, South Carolina, by Black elected officials including Reps. Byron Donalds of Florida and Wesley Hunt of Texas. Many in the crowd cheered throughout the speech.

In a freewheeling speech, Trump mixed his regular campaign remarks with appeals to the Black community and jokes that touched on race.

“The lights are so bright in my eyes I can’t see too many people out there. But I can only see the Black ones. I can’t see any white ones. That’s how far I’ve come,” Trump said to laughter from the audience.

He also said that he knew many Black people because his properties were built by Black construction workers.

In telling a story about how he renegotiated the cost of remodelling Air Force One, Trump criticised his predecessor, former President Barack Obama, the first Black person to be elected to the White House.

“I have to tell you, Black president, but I got USD 1.7 billion less,” Trump said. “Would you rather have the Black president or the white president who got USD 1.7 billion off the price?”

As the crowd cheered, he added, “I think they want the white guy.”

Republicans face an uphill battle in courting Black voters, who are overwhelmingly supportive of the Democratic Party. And while Black voter enthusiasm for Biden has cooled over the last year, only 25 per cent of Black Americans said they had a favourable view of Trump a in a December AP-NORC poll.

Black voters who spoke with The Associated Press ahead of the gala expressed scepticism that Republicans, and Trump in particular, could persuade them to switch parties.

“There’s just so much controversy,” said Ebony McBeth, a Columbia resident and transportation worker. “I would go for Biden just because Trump has his own agenda.”

Isaac Williams Sr., a retired cook from Columbia and a lifelong Democrat, said he disliked both parties but found Trump to “have mobster tendencies. He’s only out for himself.”

Multiple conservatives interviewed said the Democratic Party’s appeal to Black voters was based on “emotional politics” by evoking racism.

“In order for the Republican Party to win more of the African American community over, we’ll have to invest a lot of time and more money into really letting people know our platform, because the truth of the matter is a lot of them, they agree with our platform but they don’t associate that with the Republican Party,” said Samuel Rivers Jr., a former Republican state senator in South Carolina.

Rivers, who is Black, argued that Black voters view Republicans “in a negative way based on emotional triggers of racism that no longer exists”.

Trump has a long history of stoking racial tensions. From his earliest days as a New York real estate developer, Trump has faced accusations of racist business practices. In 1989, he took out full-page newspaper ads calling for New York state to reinstate the death penalty as five Black and Latino teenagers were set to stand trial for beating and raping a white woman in Central Park. The five men were eventually exonerated in 2002 after another man admitted to the crime and it was determined their confessions were coerced.

He spent years spreading the lie that Obama was ineligible to hold office. When he was president, Trump derided “shithole countries” in Africa and said four congresswomen of colour should go back to the “broken and crime-infested” countries they came from, ignoring the fact that all of the women are American citizens and three were born in the US.

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