By Patrick Donachie
U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-Jamaica) said GOP Presidential candidate Donald Trump’s attempts at outreach to African Americans and Hispanics were doomed for failure.
The comments came during a conference call on Tuesday afternoon organized by the campaign of Hillary Clinton, the Democratic presidential candidate. The call was made up of African-American and Latino elected officials and it also included Public Advocate Letitia James and City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. .
At a rally in Dimondale, Mich., last Friday, Trump attempted to make inroads with African-American voters. Polling indicates he performs dreadfully with African-Americans, garnering single-digit support in some national and state polls. However, he created controversy when he pitched himself directly to African-Americans, though reports indicated the audience was mostly white.
“You’re living in poverty, your schools are no good, you have no jobs, 58 percent of your youth is unemployed,” he said during the Michigan speech. “What the hell do you have to lose?”
Meeks and other elected officials on the call said the insinuation was an affront to black voters.
“According to him, we are all poor. We are all uneducated, so therefore we should just throw our support behind him,” Meeks said. The congressman said Trump had a questionable track record on race, including accusations of discriminatory housing and employment policies in his business dealings,, and he cited Trump’s role as the head of the birther movement that alleged President Barack Obama was not born in the United States.
“It’s an insult to think that African Americans don’t vote in their best interests. They do,” he said.“African Americans know who’s for them and who’s against them.”
Meeks echoed the message of the other officials, and paraphrased a quote from the poet Maya Angelou to say that voters should be suspect of Trump’s outreach to black Americans.
“When someone shows you who they are,” Meeks said, “believe them the first time.”
Reach reporter Patrick Donachie by e-mail at pdona