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Donald Trump's Outreach To Black Voters Overshadowed At Convention


The Republican Party has a black voter problem, and Donald Trump really has a black voter problem. But here in Cleveland at the Republican National Convention, some people are trying to change that. NPR's Sam Sanders has that story.

SAM SANDERS, BYLINE: The latest bad number on Trump and black voters - zero. That's how much black support Trump got in one recent poll. I asked a lot of black Republicans here in Cleveland this week just what they make of a number that bad.

SIMONE PERRY: I think that just proves how invalid polls, for the most part, are.

HENRY CHILDS SR.: Polling can be anecdotal data if it's not done correctly.

OMAROSA MANIGAULT: What poll was that? I keep hearing people throw that around. Could you tell me the name of it?

SANDERS: That was Simone Perry and alternate delegate Henry Childs Sr., both from Georgia. And that last voice you heard was Omarosa Manigault's. She's Trump's recently appointed director of African-American outreach and former star of "The Apprentice." To answer her question, that last one, the poll came from NBC and The Wall Street Journal. It measured black support in Pennsylvania and Ohio.

To change that number, the party might need to rethink its messaging on perhaps the most important issue for lots of black voters this election - policing. Talk off mic with black Republicans, and they say problems with police in black communities must be addressed. Omarosa, Trump's head of black outreach - she said it's an issue dear to her heart, but at the podium, you hear a different thing from black speakers.


DAVID CLARKE: What we witnessed in Ferguson and Baltimore and Baton Rouge was a collapse of the social order.

SANDERS: That's David Clarke, the sheriff of Milwaukee County.


CLARKE: So many of the actions of the Occupy movement and Black Lives Matter transcends peaceful protests and violates the code of conduct we rely on. I call it anarchy.

SANDERS: That same night Darryl Glenn, a Senate candidate from Colorado, said this.


DARRYL GLENN: You know, and quite frankly, somebody with a nice tan needs to say this. All lives matter.

SANDERS: This is not the kind of outreach Henry Childs wants. He's a black delegate from Texas, and he says Republicans probably won't do better with black voters by continuing a kind of colorblind outreach.

CHILDS SR.: They see black engagement as pandering. It's not pandering. It's called communicating. We have no trouble reaching out to other groups - Second Amendment groups, pro-life groups, women groups. But when it comes to black groups, for some reason, it seems like it's like playing racial politics. It's not.

SANDERS: Donald Trump has not suggested a ban on all blacks or a wall keeping them out. Even so, Childs says he doesn't expect the work of outreach to black voters to come from Trump. It's going to come from black Republicans like him.

Does Donald Trump make the job of black Republicans doing that outreach harder or easier?

CHILDS SR.: I'm going to do my job regardless. My job is hard enough by itself. I'm a black Republican. So the Republican Party doesn't value what I do, and the Democrats hate what I do. So I'm getting it from both ends.

SANDERS: Childs is one of a very small number of black delegates on the floor in Cleveland this week. But he said he's going to keep doing what he's doing because black voters deserve a choice. Sam Sanders, NPR News, Cleveland. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Sam Sanders
Sam Sanders is a correspondent and host of It's Been a Minute with Sam Sanders at NPR. In the show, Sanders engages with journalists, actors, musicians, and listeners to gain the kind of understanding about news and popular culture that can only be reached through conversation. The podcast releases two episodes each week: a "deep dive" interview on Tuesdays, as well as a Friday wrap of the week's news.