Standing before a vastly white crowd in Ohio on Monday evening, Donald Trump made a passionate pitch to African American and Hispanic voters, whom he described as living in poverty in neighborhoods that are more dangerous than war zones.
"Our government has totally failed our African American friends, our Hispanic friends and the people of our country. Period," Trump said in Akron, Ohio, straying from the prepared remarks the campaign provided to reporters. "The Democrats have failed completely in the inner cities. For those hurting the most who have been failed and failed by their politician — year after year, failure after failure, worse numbers after worse numbers. Poverty. Rejection. Horrible education. No housing, no homes, no ownership. Crime at levels that nobody has seen. You can go to war zones in countries that we are fighting and it's safer than living in some of our inner cities that are run by the Democrats. And I ask you this, I ask you this — crime, all of the problems — to the African Americans, who I employ so many, so many people, to the Hispanics, tremendous people: What the hell do you have to lose? Give me a chance. I'll straighten it out. I'll straighten it out. What do you have to lose?"
The mostly white crowd cheered and then started chanting: "Trump! Trump! Trump! Trump!"
Trump continued: "And you know, I say it, and I'm going to keep saying it. And some people say: 'Wow, that makes sense.' And then some people say: 'Well, that wasn't very nice.' Look, it is a disaster the way African Americans are living, in many cases, and, in many cases the way Hispanics are living, and I say it with such a deep-felt feeling: What do you have to lose? I will straighten it out. I'll bring jobs back. We'll bring spirit back. We'll get rid of the crime. You'll be able to walk down the street without getting shot. Right now, you walk down the street, you get shot. Look at the statistics. We'll straighten it out. If you keep voting for the same failed politicians, you will keep getting the same results. They don't care about you. They just like you once every four years — get your vote and then they say: 'Bye, bye!'"
What Donald Trump is doing on the campaign trail
Trump paused as the crowd again cheered.
"What do you have to lose?" Trump said. "And you know what? I'll do a great job. I'll do a great job."
Trump then promised to lower taxes for individuals and businesses, rebuild the country's infrastructure, expand school options such as charters, and reform policies governing energy, trade, immigration and business regulation — all things that he said would lead to the creation of millions of new jobs.
Hillary Clinton's campaign attempted to answer Trump's question on Monday night, with an aide saying that African Americans have a lot to lose by voting for Trump.
"It could not be clearer how much African Americans have to lose under Donald Trump," Marlon Marshall, Clinton's director of state campaigns and political engagement, said in a statement. "He is doubling down on insults, fear and stereotypes that set our community back and further divide our country. But again this is not surprising, this is a man who questions the citizenship of the first African American president, has a disturbing pattern of courting white supremacists, and has been sued for housing discrimination against communities of color."
During the speech, Trump continued his attacks on Clinton and accused her of arranging "pay-for-play scandals" through her family's charitable foundation. Trump said that the Justice Department should appoint an independent special prosecutor to investigate what he considers racketeering, but he said that has not happened because the department "has proven itself to be a political arm of the White House." When Trump said that he has "become increasingly shocked by the vast scope of Hillary Clinton’s criminality," the crowd responded by chanting: "Lock her up! Lock her up!"
Trump seemed more optimistic about his chances of winning than he has been lately, especially as Clinton has pulled ahead of him and dominated recent polls. He told the Ohio crowd that he expects to "win big" in November because he has sparked a political movement. But he also once again subtly suggested that the Democrats might try to illegally rig the election against him through voter fraud.
"You've got to get every one of your friends. You've got to get every one of your family. You've got to get everybody to go out and watch, and go out and vote," Trump said as he wrapped up his remarks. "And when I say 'watch,' you know what I'm talking about. Right? You know what I'm talking about. I think you've got to go out and you've got to watch."
Jose A. DelReal in Akron contributed to this report.