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Opinion This one quote says it all about Trump’s ‘minority outreach’

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump repeated his pitch to minority voters in Ohio on Aug. 22, asking them "What do you have to lose?" (Video: The Washington Post)


The news that Donald Trump will visit a black church in Detroit on Saturday, and that he plans to deliver a speech tomorrow that will likely sugar-coat his stance on mass deportations, is bound to prompt discussion in coming days about the true nature and aims of Trump’s “minority outreach.”

This morning, Post fact checker Michelle Lee takes a look at an interesting claim by the Trump campaign: That Trump is more “bold” than previous Republican nominees when it comes to venturing into communities of color and making a case to them. It’s a claim we are likely to hear a lot in coming days, and as Lee demonstrates, it’s not actually true.

But what is also revealing is how this claim was made. Here’s the quote from Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway, in an interview with ABC News:

“This entire conversation had to be had. Republican presidential nominees usually aren’t bold enough to go into communities of color and take the case right to them, and compete for all ears and compete for all votes. They’ve been afraid to do that. So, Mr. Trump deserves credit for at least taking the case directly to the people.”

As even some Republicans have argued, Trump’s outreach to minorities is probably less grounded in a genuine hope of winning over nonwhites in large margins, and more reflects an effort to persuade college educated whites — who are on track to support the Democrat for the first time in over half a century — that he is not bigoted himself or that he is not running a campaign fueled by racist appeals. Conway is almost certainly an architect of this makeover, and it should be noted that it comes after some of Trump’s own supporters pointed out that much of his minority outreach has occurred before white audiences, and called on him to spend more time addressing black audiences.

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In that context, it’s notable that Conway explicitly states that a chief aim here is for Trump to get “credit” for taking his case to African American audiences. Conway very likely wants college educated whites to give Trump credit for this (not to mention leading media opinion-makers).

But Trump has his work cut out for him on this front, because those voters believe he is either personally biased against minorities, or believe that he is running a campaign designed to play on bigotry. A recent Post poll found that 56 percent of American voters think Trump is “biased against women and minorities.” Tellingly, according to the crosstabs, college educated whites believe this by 58-39, and white women with college degrees — a key constituency the campaigns are fighting for — believe this by a more overwhelming 66-33. Meanwhile, a recent Quinnipiac poll found that likely voters believe by 59-36 that the way Trump talks “appeals to bigotry.” College educated whites agree by 58-38, and white women agree by 57-37.

And make no mistake: Those voters are a prime audience for Trump’s makeover. As a recent Post report put it, Trump’s own advisers say that while he does want to improve among nonwhites, he also “believes that a more measured approach on race can convince white voters now shunning him — especially women — that he is not the racist that his inflammatory rhetoric might indicate.”

But those are tough numbers to overcome. Indeed, it’s likely that Trump’s vow of mass deportations, his proposed temporary ban on Muslims from entering the U.S., his battle with the Khan family, and his nonstop all-around abusiveness have indelibly branded him in the minds of the college educated and suburban white swing voters who are a key target of this “minority outreach.”


* REPUBLICANS DOUBT TRUMP’S ‘MINORITY OUTREACH’ WILL WORK: The Post reports that Trump’s “minority outreach” mysteriously takes place mostly in front of “overwhelmingly white audiences,” and notes that some Republicans are skeptical it will work:

“The attempt is at trying to fix a problem he has with mainstream voters, and I’m not optimistic that will work,” said John Weaver, a longtime GOP strategist. “It’s heavy-handed, it’s such a ham-handed attempt. Here’s his problem: People would have to have Etch A Sketch memory in their brains to forget everything he has said.”

Ironically, the very same vividness and clarity of Trump’s proposals that cut through the clutter during the GOP primaries will now make that harder for him.

* HILLARY HOLDS NATIONAL LEAD: The new NBC News/Survey Monkey Tracking Poll finds that Clinton leads Trump by 48-42, down slightly from eight points last week. This lead is stable, the poll finds, because both Dems and Republicans support their nominees. But:

The one group that is open to changing their minds are registered Independents who do not lean toward either party. Trump has made inroads with this group. Two weeks ago, Clinton led Trump by 12 points among this key group of persuadable voters — 40 percent to 32 percent. This week, that lead is down to just 4 points — 37 percent to 33 percent.

Keep an eye on other polls to see if they also find this. Meanwhile, the polling averages have her lead at nearly seven points.

* TRUMP ISN’T REALLY PREPPING FOR DEBATE: The New York Times reports that Clinton is preparing for the debates by pouring over research into Trump’s debating strengths and weaknesses, while Trump’s prep sessions are more “freewheeling.” Here’s why:

“I know who I am, and it got me here,” Mr. Trump said, boasting of success in his 11 primary debate appearances and in capturing the Republican nomination over veteran politicians and polished debaters. “I don’t want to present a false front. I mean, it’s possible we’ll do a mock debate, but I don’t see a real need.”

As we’ve argued, Trump is still trapped in the mental universe he inhabited during his glorious primary wins. He swatted Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio aside, and Clinton will be just as easy.

* McCAIN FACES BIG PRIMARY: John McCain faces GOP primary voters today, and Politico observes:

McCain is hoping for a blowout in his Senate primary on Tuesday. He’s bracing for a squeaker….He expects to prevail over conservative challenger Kelli Ward, but the margin of victory will decide whether he barrels or limps into the toughest general election fight of his 34-year political career, against Democratic Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick.

One thing worth watching for in the general: The contortions McCain will display when it comes to his support for Trump, which could get pretty comic if he enters the race weakened.

* TRUMP IS BROADENING THE MAP! REALLY!!! NBC’s Hallie Jackson scoops:

Hmmm, okay. The polling averages show Trump trailing in Michigan by eight points, and neither the Clinton campaign nor the pro-Clinton Super PAC Priorities USA is advertising there. So let’s see how much he really spends.

* NO, TRUMP ISN’T ACTUALLY BROADENING THE MAP: Stuart Rothenberg lays it out:

According to, state polls now show that the Midwest Rust Belt strategy of Trump has gone nowhere. Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin are not currently in play….On the other hand, Colorado and Virginia, two swing states in 2012, look like potential blow-outs, with Clinton currently holding double-digit leads in both, according to

But but but what about that army of blue collar white men?

* YES, TRUMP WILL BUILD A REAL WALL! REALLY!!! Trump spokesman Jason Miller went on Fox and Friends this morning to dispel rumors that Trump’s wall on the southern border will be “virtual”:

“What you’ve seen with Mr. Trump is he’s been remarkably consistent in his pledge to end illegal immigration….We’re going to build the wall, we’re going to secure our borders, we’re going to enforce our immigration laws. We’re going to end sanctuary cities. We’re going to pass e-Verify and uphold the Constitution….there will be a physical wall.”

Also note how the vow of mass deportations has morphed into the vague platitudinous GOP promise to “enforce the law.” Yet Trump is extensively on record calling for the former.

What Donald Trump is doing on the campaign trail

MANCHESTER, NH - NOVEMBER 7: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign event at SNHU Arena in Manchester, NH on Monday November 07, 2016. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)