Black Church Leaders in Wisconsin Remain Skeptical of Donald Trump’s Candidacy

Pastor Harold Rayford
Pastor Harold Rayford

When President Barack Obama was re-elected in 2012, he out-polled Republican Mitt Romney by 87 percentage points among black voters.

The hope among optimistic Republicans in 2016 was that a white Democratic nominee would not be able to count on that level of support. But according to a Fox News poll last week, just 1 percent of African-Americans support Republican nominee Donald Trump, compared to 85 percent for Hillary Clinton and 7 percent for Libertarian Gary Johnson. In some states, Trump is polling at 0 percent among African-Americans.

How has Trump responded? Speaking Friday in Dimondale, Michigan — a predominantly white town located about 90 miles west of Detroit — the real estate magnate abandoned his teleprompter and attempted to speak directly to black voters.

“Look at how much African American communities are suffering from Democratic control. To those I say the following: What do you have to lose by trying something new like Trump? What do you have to lose?” Trump said. “You’re living in poverty, your schools are no good, you have no jobs, 58 percent of your youth is unemployed — what the hell do you have to lose?”

But Trump’s rhetoric has not been very compelling for many African-Americans, said Harold Rayford of Sun Prarie’s Faith Place Church.

“I think a lot of what Donald Trump says is coded. I think he’s appealing to the racist, to many people who have racial bias against African-Americans and minorities and against the less fortunate,” Rayford told reporter Greg Neumann on WKOW’s “Capital City Sunday.”

Rayford was joined by Pastor Joseph Baring of east Madison’s St. Paul A.M.E. church. Baring said Trump is saying what he thinks black voters want to hear, but ultimately misses the point.

“He said he could get them jobs and he would deport immigrants, Latinos who are holding the jobs that African-Americans would normally be holding,” Baring said. “Truth be told, there aren’t any jobs for them as well as African-Americans. Whether he deported them or not, the issue with jobs isn’t Latinos having jobs or anything else. He pulls the wool over people’s eyes.”

In the midst of racial unrest in cities like Milwaukee, Trump has argued that decades of Democratic urban policies have failed miserably. Rayford said that’s a good point, but it’s hard to take it seriously when Trump is the one delivering it.

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Source: The Capital Times | JASON JOYCE