Trump Urges Michigan GOP Chair to Increase Efforts in Reaching Out to Black Voters in Detroit

Former President Donald Trump is encouraging Republicans in Michigan to focus on Black voters in Detroit and other predominantly African American areas in the swing state, according to state GOP leaders as of Monday.

Michigan GOP leaders, including the state party’s new chair, traveled to Florida to discuss the Trump campaign’s strategy for winning the state in 2024. Much of the conversation revolved around southeast Michigan, an area with significant minority voter populations critical of President Joe Biden, especially regarding his handling of the Israel-Hamas conflict and its impact on Gaza’s civilian casualties.

“The president believes there is a compelling case for engaging African American and Hispanic voters, whether it’s in Saginaw, Wayne County, Muskegon, or anywhere else in the state,” stated Michigan GOP chair Pete Hoekstra. Wayne County encompasses much of metro Detroit.

Both Biden and Trump are expected to fiercely contest Michigan, a state that shifted Democratic in 2020 and is considered crucial for both candidates’ electoral prospects in November.

Arab American protests related to the conflict have influenced protest vote movements in Michigan’s Democratic primary and subsequent party competitions. However, Democratic leaders in southeast Michigan are concerned that the party may be neglecting dissatisfaction among Black voters, a core Democratic constituency that Trump’s campaign believes it can court for more support.

A February AP-NORC poll showed that only 58% of Black adults approved of Biden’s performance as president, a significant decline from 94% in January 2021. At the same time, only 24% of Black adults held a favorable view of Trump.

Certain members of the community in Saginaw, a pivotal county, expressed anger over Biden’s recent visit where he skipped a visit to a Black church in the 46% Black city and instead met with two local white leaders on their front porch. Trump has taken note of the pushback in metro Detroit, focusing on engagement with nontraditional Republican and traditional Democratic voters in the area.

Hoekstra stated that the Trump campaign is highly interested in Wayne County, where Detroit is located and the Democrats have a stronghold, with nearly 70% support for Biden in 2020. Other areas of focus include Saginaw, Kent, and Ottawa counties, where Trump performed well in 2016 but saw reduced support in 2020, according to Hoekstra.

The Biden campaign responded by highlighting Trump’s past racist actions and policies, stating that Michigan voters remember this history and will not be swayed by his attempts to win their votes through pandering.

The Michigan GOP and Trump’s campaign are lagging behind Democrats in fundraising efforts and face a tight timeline to catch up. Hoekstra recently assumed leadership of the state party, which was deep in debt and plagued by internal conflicts under Kristina Karamo’s leadership. While Hoekstra is working to rally top donors, the party is far from reaching the fundraising levels of past election cycles.

Hoekstra mentioned that the state party’s leadership team is nearly finalized and that the Trump campaign is expected to announce a lead person in the state soon. The Trump campaign did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Biden’s reelection team has been established for months, with the state’s Democratic governor, Gretchen Whitmer, serving as campaign co-chair.

GOP chairs in Oakland’s Vance Patrick and Macomb’s Mark Forton met with senior Trump adviser James Blair separately to discuss strategy in metro Detroit and ways to proactively engage Black and Hispanic voters at an earlier stage.

Patrick emphasized the urgency in Michigan, stating that Trump had highlighted the necessity to win the state. He pointed out the importance of launching outreach efforts for minority voters promptly instead of waiting until later in the election cycle.

Copyright 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.

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