During several small briefings at the Trump campaign offices in Arlington, Va., campaign officials explained they expect Trump supporters to use the offices to volunteer, learn more about the president’s message, attend programming — an official said Pierson plans to visit every community center — and even buy campaign merchandise.
“You’re never going to get the votes you don’t ask for,” Kushner said, describing the outreach as “more than a toe in the water. It’s a whole foot in the water.”
Kushner, who in his capacity as an administration official worked to help push bipartisan criminal justice reform through Congress, said that nearly four years into his presidency, Trump has an affirmative message to share with black voters.
“Last time it was, ‘What the hell do you have to lose?’ ” he said. “Now you show them what they’ve gained from President Trump and what more they can gain if they get four more years of President Trump.”
Though they are still in the process of signing leases for the storefront locations, the officials have plans for 15 centers in key swing states: Florida (Jacksonville, Miami, Orlando, Tampa and Tallahassee); Georgia (Atlanta); Michigan (Detroit); North Carolina (Charlotte, Greensboro and Raleigh); Ohio (Cleveland and Columbus); Pennsylvania (Philadelphia and Pittsburgh); and Wisconsin (Milwaukee).
During Wednesday’s tour for reporters — which the officials said was partially pegged to February’s Black History Month — the campaign displayed brochures boasting of what it said Trump had already done for the black community, including his support for criminal justice reform, historically black colleges and universities, and school choice. Tables also featured “Black Voice for Trump” T-shirts, sweatshirts and mugs, as well as hats that said “Woke.”
Asked whether using “Woke” — a phrase generally used by liberals to signify their alertness to injustice and oppression in society, especially racism — in their marketing materials was a joke or a serious effort, a campaign official said it was “both.”
“It’s a woke concept,” Pierson said. “This concept by itself is a woke concept in the fact that for decades you have had a community that has been controlled by the Democratic Party. Republicans haven’t even gone in to deliver their message. Now we have a Republican who is actually going to the community to deliver the message and ask for the vote.”
She added: “It’s the same concept as being asleep for so long to the truth and now you are awake.”
Trump won just 8 percent of the black vote in 2016, but his campaign is hoping to do better this election cycle, buoyed by what it says is an increase in support officials are seeing in public and private polling.
“At minimum, we’re double from where we were in 2016,” Parscale said.
He added that when black voters “hear the president directly versus hear him through a media filter,” the gap in their positive feelings toward Trump can be significant. “Sometimes the difference in approval is 40 to 50 points,” Parscale said.