WINTERVILLE, N.C. — Hillary Clinton urged African American voters here to turn out to vote, warning them that Donald Trump's vision for his presidency would leave them behind.
“He has spent this entire campaign offering a dog whistle to his most hateful supporters,” Clinton told a crowd of about 1,800 at Pitt Community College. “He retweets white supremacists and spreads racially tinged conspiracy theories.”
Clinton noted that Trump had been endorsed by the Ku Klux Klan, an endorsement his campaign rejected.
But Clinton painted it as part of a broader pattern of Trump appealing to the worst elements of American society.
“They said it was about preserving white identity, and they have placed their faith in him,” Clinton said.
She noted that Trump had been repeatedly accused of housing discrimination at his real estate properties and that he had continued to proclaim the guilt of five black and Hispanic men, called the Central Park Five, on assault and rape accusations even after DNA evidence had exonerated them.
“Do any of us have a place in Trump’s America?” Clinton asked.
Clinton was introduced on Thursday by Mae Brown Wiggins, who was allegedly denied an apartment in a Trump building because she was black and was a part of a federal housing discrimination suit against Trump.
“If he were to win, he would be in charge of the Housing and Urban Development Department,” Clinton said. “If he doesn’t respect all Americans, how an we trust him to serve all Americans?”
Clinton's appeal to black voters here has become increasingly urgent as early voting results show turnout among African American voters in North Carolina has fallen, compared with turnout in 2008. A combination of fewer early voting sites, lower enthusiasm for Clinton, and legal disputes about voter registration records are likely causes.
The Clinton campaign has pointed to higher black turnout in recent days, after the number of polling places in the state was dramatically increased, as a sign that the situation is improving.
The state voted for President Obama in 2008 but returned to being a red state in 2012. Polls show that this year, Clinton and Trump are locked in a virtual tie. And high black turnout is considered the key to Democrats being able to perform well.
President Obama will make two stops in North Carolina for Clinton on Friday, and he campaigned in the state on Wednesday.
In recent days, Clinton has begun urging voters to picture a Trump presidency. She painted him as unsteady and unprepared for the job.
And in Winterville, Clinton mocked Trump for seemingly acknowledging that he has been unable to stay on his own campaign message when he urged himself to “stay on point” at his campaign rally on Wednesday.
“His campaign probably put that into a teleprompter: 'Stay on point, Donald. Stay on point,' " Clinton said.
Clinton reiterated her pledge to address gun violence, police shootings of African Americans and systemic racism as president.
“We are going to take on systemic racism with a full commitment and real follow-through,” Clinton said. “We’re going to roll up our sleeves and get to work!”