At a rally in Toledo, Oct. 27, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump pledged to "work on our ghettos" and then listed "horrible problems" in inner cities. (The Washington Post)

TOLEDO — Donald Trump on Thursday referred to urban areas populated by African Americans and plagued by violence and economic struggles as “ghettos” during an afternoon rally.

“And we’re going to work on our — ghettos, are in so the, you take a look at what’s going on where you have pockets of, areas of land where you have the inner cities and you have so many things, so many problems,” Trump said, appearing to catch himself and fumble over his words. “So many horrible, horrible problems. The violence. The death. The lack of education. No jobs.”

“Ghetto” is not a word that public officials and candidates tend to use to describe struggling urban areas, as some find it troubling or outdated in that context.

The Republican presidential nominee pledged to “work with the African American community” and “solve the problem of the inner city.”

Polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton holds a wide lead among African Americans over Trump. The GOP nominee has emphasized his outreach to the black community in recent months. But his efforts have not been smooth. And he continues to address mostly white audiences.

Trump zigged and zagged in his remarks at the rally, sarcastically suggesting at one point that the election be called off and the presidency be handed to him.

“What a difference this is. I’m just thinking to myself right now — we should just cancel the election and just give it to Trump, right?” he said as he compared his candidacy with Clinton’s.

Trump also polled his crowd about who is lower energy: Clinton or Jeb Bush. He dubbed the former Florida governor “low energy” during the Republican primary and has repeatedly questioned Clinton’s stamina.

“You know what I say, doesn’t matter,” Trump said, ans‘wering his own question.