Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump spoke to a predominantly African-American audience at at the Great Faith Ministries church on Saturday, in Detroit, Michigan. He delivered a positive message about unity and fixing problems in the African-American community. He proudly reminded the audience that the Republican Party was the Party of Abraham Lincoln, and assured them that he understands that African-Americans have faced many injustices over the years.
He’s receiving mixed-reviews, both criticism and praise, and there were protests outside the church before his arrival. But the big question is, what on earth took him so long? He’s been on the campaign trail now for over a year, and this is his first major African-American venue, despite the importance of this group in the American electorate, despite the realities of electoral politics in the United States of America.
To be clear, Trump said and did all the right things. He sat in the front, said he was there to listen and learn, held up a baby for all to see (Trump needs all the help he can get with the baby loving demographic, after recent crass comments) and accepted the generous gift of a prayer shawl. Though this address is certainly a positive step forward, it’s lateness within the campaign calendar does raise questions, and should be a cause for concern. How serious is Donald Trump about courting black voters if he waits until this late in the process, with the election in November and early voting happening early this very month (September) to speak to a largely African-American audience?
It suggests that he values his main constituency, disgruntled older white men who lean to the political right, far more than African-American voters, in the long run. Trump is playing catch-up with African-American voters, and though time will tell, and elections are full of surprises, many feel it’s simply too little too late.