By Christy Strawser
DETROIT (CBS Detroit) Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is stumping in Detroit next week, reportedly to court black votes in swing state Michigan after alienating ethnic community groups.
But there’s more to his visit than meets the eye, according to several metro Detroit political experts.
Trump’s Saturday stop at Great Faith Ministries in Detroit, a predominantly black church, is meant to appease suburban voters more than actually attempt to garner black votes, several experts agreed. It could be nearly impossible at this point for Trump to pull votes from the black community, they also agreed.
“There’s a two pronged strategy: It’s also designed to send a signal to more moderate voters in the suburbs that this guy isn’t a complete racist and neanderthal,” WWJ Lansing Bureau Chief Tim Skubick said. “The popular wisdom is that this is a waste of time. If he were to get 10-12 percent of the African American vote, that would be pretty incredible.”
Skubick added: “In a nutshell, in the last poll he had about 2 percent of the African American vote, so he has only one way to go, up.”
At a recent campaign stop in Dimondale, Mich., Trump pledged that if elected, he’ll garner 95 percent of the African American vote at his re-election in 2020. For comparison, President Barack Obama got 93 percent.
Skubick said Trump is going to have to move his political stances more toward the center to get any traction among black voters.
“These moments of reaching out to minority communities is certainly not going to do much for his support in these communities, but he’s trying to show white communities he’s not an evil, racist bigot,” said Ed Sidlow, a political commentator, author, and professor of political science at Eastern Michigan University. “He’s not a stupid man, and that strikes me as one of the reasons he might be doing this.”
Sidlow agrees that the effort won’t do much to attract black voters.
“I don’t think he can make inroads in the black community with stops, but I also don’t think he’s wasting his time,” Sidlow said. “Anyone who says they have an opinion on this madness is crazy, so let me say it’s my guess that there is some strategy in having him appear sensitive to minority communities to make him less troublesome to some of his suburban white voters.”
Former President Bill Clinton was renowned for his ability to reach black voters, and Sidlow thinks that magic has transferred to his wife, Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.
“I don’t know that the black community is listening terribly carefully to what he’s saying, I think that die has been cast and, you know, who makes predictions in a world that’s so topsy turvy. But I think she (Hillary Clinton) is as likely to do well in the black community as Barack Obama,” Sidlow said.
So, what does he have to do — And is it even possible for a billionaire real estate developer to become a favorite son among African Americans.
Pastor Mark Burns is the Trump supporter who arranged a meeting between the Republican presidential nominee and the church’s leader, Bishop Wayne T. Jackson.
Trump will “give an address to outline policies that will impact minorities and the disenfranchised in our country,” Burns said in a press release.
He added: “I see, as I have seen, the heart and compassion Mr. Trump has for all Americans, which includes minority communities whose votes have been for granted for far too long.”
Trump is expected to speak about education, unemployment and safety
So, how often should Detroiters expect to see Trump? One pundit thinks this could be a short-lived effort, saying he should buy a coney dog when he’s here because he might not get another chance.