Campaigning at an African-American church for the first time during the presidential race, Donald Trump called for “a civil rights agenda for our time” and cast himself as the candidate who could best “rebuild Detroit” and struggling black communities across the nation.
In a 12-minute speech he read from the center aisle at Great Faith Ministries, the Republican nominee shaved off the rougher edges of the pitch he’s previously made to African-American voters, mostly before white audiences — “what the hell do you have to lose?” he has said in the past — and traded it in for uncharacteristic humility.
“I just wrote this the other day, knowing I’d be here,” Trump began, “and I mean it from the heart and I’d like to just read it and I think you’ll understand it maybe better than I do in certain ways.”
Bishop Wayne T. Jackson introduced Trump, who pumped his fist in the air and waved to the crowd, saying, “This is the first African-American church he’s been in y’all.” Trump was greeted by warm applause.
“I am here today to listen to your message and I hope my presence here will also help your voice to reach new audiences in our country and many of these audiences desperately need your spirit and your thought,” Trump said.
Trump, who sat in the front row with surrogate Dr. Ben Carson and Theresa “Omarosa” Manigault, a former “Apprentice” contestant who is director of Trump’s African-American outreach, praised the church as “the conscience of our country, so true” and said black churches inspired the nation “toward a better moral character, a deeper concern for mankind, and spirit of charity and unity that binds us all together.”
The Detroit trip seemed stage-managed to minimize any potential missteps, with a leaked script earlier in the week of the questions-and-answers Trump was supposed to deliver in a television interview conducted before the service with Jackson. Despite that, Trump claimed at the church, “I didn’t really know what I was getting into. I didn’t know. Is this going to be nice? Is this going to be wild?”
Inside the church, the event was ticketed, ensuring all the protests remained outside. And before Trump spoke, he met privately with about 100 congregants but no press, even pool reporters, were allowed in to hear this unscripted discussion.
Despite many polls showing him with historically low support among black voters, Trump cast himself as a Republican in the tradition of Abraham Lincoln at Great Faith Ministries.
Source: Politico | SHANE GOLDMACHER