Trump: Democrats have 'failed and betrayed' African-Americans

Jeremy Diamond, CNN | 8/17/2016, 11:53 a.m.
Donald Trump made a pitch for African-American voters on Tuesday by calling for more police in America's inner cities, arguing ...
Donald Trump painted a foreboding picture Thursday of an America adrift as he accepted the Republican presidential nomination with a sober speech in Cleveland. CNN photo

WEST BEND, Wisconsin (CNN) -- Donald Trump made a pitch for African-American voters on Tuesday by calling for more police in America's inner cities, arguing that Democratic policies have failed minority communities and accusing Democrats of "peddling the narrative of cops as a racist force."

"I'm asking for the vote of every African-American citizen struggling in our country today who wants a different and much better future. It's time for our society to address some honest and very very difficult choices," he said. "The Democratic Party has failed and betrayed the African-American community."

Speaking just 40 miles outside of Milwaukee, the city rocked by a wave of violent protests after a police shooting of an armed African-American man that reignited racial tensions, the Republican presidential nominee weaved his pledge to restore "law and order" and bring back jobs with an unrelenting barrage of attacks that painted Democratic policies as the engineers of poverty and crime in inner cities.

"To every voter in Milwaukee, to every voter living in the inner city or every forgotten stretch of society, I'm running to offer you a much better future," Trump said before tearing into Democrats. "They've taken African-Americans for granted. They just assume they'll get their support. They've taken advantage of the African-American citizen. It's time to give the Democrats some competition for these votes."

But Trump has more ground to make up with African-American voters than any Republican nominee in recent history, drawing just 1% of the African-American vote in a recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll in the battleground states of Ohio and Pennsylvania.

Unlike his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton, Trump did not address African-Americans frustrations with the racially disproportionate effects of law enforcement.

Instead, he accused Clinton of "bigotry" by seeing "communities of color ... only as votes" and "not as individual human beings."

"She doesn't care at all about the hurting people of this country or the suffering she has caused them," Trump said. "Now is the time for new leadership. The Hillary Clinton agenda hurts poor people by far the most."

Trump defended the officer who shot Sylville Smith in Milwaukee on Saturday night. Police body camera footage showed Smith holding a handgun during the encounter, police said. The unidentified officer shot Smith after he failed to comply with orders to put his gun down.

When asked if the officer did the right thing, Trump told Fox News: "If he believed the gun was pointed at his head, maybe ready to be fired, what is a person supposed to do? Supposed to talk him out of it?"

"Who can have a problem with that? That's what the narrative is. Maybe it's not true. If it is true, people shouldn't be rioting," he added.

Clinton's candidacy was buoyed in the Democratic primary in part by winning the support of a majority of African-American voters, and campaign on issues of racial equality, social justice and addressing systematic racism.

Trump also accused Clinton and Democrats of deepening racial divides and fostering "the dangerous anti-police atmosphere in America."

"She is against the police, believe me," Trump said. "The problem in our poorest communities is not that there are too many police, the problem is that there are not enough police."

Trump also sought to galvanize the African-American community into supporting him by touting his hardline stance on illegal immigration and arguing that Clinton's policies to give some undocumented immigrants legal status in the U.S. would take away jobs from low-income African-Americans.