Politics

White House Sees Opportunity in Trump's Pitch to African-Americans

Obama spokesman: GOP nominee's tax plan hurts "everyone" but the rich

Colorado Republican candidate for U.S. Senate Darryl Glenn spoke to a mostly white audience at the  2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland. GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump is trying to reach out to African-American voters.  (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The White House appears to sense an opportunity in Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s recent outreach to African-Americans.

Speaking in Michigan on Friday, Trump made a pitch for black voters to support him in November. "You're living in poverty, your schools are no good, you have no jobs, 58 percent of your youth is unemployed,” Trump said.

And in an unconventional plea for their support, he added: “What the hell do you have to lose?"

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The White House seems eager for voters to compare Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s record and proposals to those of her Republican rival.

Asked Thursday about Trump’s pitch, President Barack Obama’s top spokesman opted against criticizing the real estate mogul’s gloomy message — and later disputed the notion that African-Americans are worse off today than in the past.

“The president does believe that these are the kinds of debate we should have,” Press Secretary Josh Earnest said. He added that both candidates’ agendas should be “carefully scrutinized” before voters “draw their own conclusions.”

Polls suggest Clinton could win up to 95 percent of the African-American vote in November.

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Earnest also disputed the notion that African-Americans are worse off economically than when Obama took office in January 2009.

“I think you’d be hard-pressed to make a case that the African-American community is not better off,” he said.

“Everyone,” including blacks, would be hurt by the tax cuts Trump is proposing for the wealthiest Americans, Earnest said.

Contact Bennett at johnbennett@cqrollcall.com. Follow him on Twitter @BennettJohnT.

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