FREDERICKSBURG, Va. — For the fourth straight rally, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump made an overt appeal to black voters, promising to make the Republican Party "inclusive" and the "home" of African-Americans moving forward.
Trump, who was speaking in Virginia, a key swing state that voted for President Obama twice, made the renewed pitch a day after vowing to win more than 95 percent of the African-American vote in 2020 after his first term in the White House. He also railed against the "bigotry" exhibited by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, arguing that she uses African-Americans for their vote and nothing more.
"The GOP is the party of Lincoln, and I want our party to be the home of the African-American vote once again," Trump told his supporters. "I want an inclusive country, and I want an inclusive party.
"We reject the bigotry of Hillary Clinton, who sees people of color only as votes, not as human beings worthy of a better future. We've seen what the Democratic policies have done in cities like Detroit, Baltimore and Chicago," Trump continued, adding that he wants upward mobility for African-Americans in poor communities.
Speaking more broadly earlier in the speech, Trump took a broadside at Clinton, telling the crowd that Americans will "lose everything" if she wins in November and will "make America poor." He also spent a solid portion of his remarks focusing on foreign policy, specifically going after President Obama's defense budget plan. Trump argued that Obama's plan will put America at higher risk for a terror attack, all the while pointing out that parts of the U.S. military are being hollowed out.
"We face threats as never, ever before, but an Obama-Clinton administration is determined to keep shrinking our military until you know what is ultimately is going to happen, and it's not going to be good — that I can tell you," Trump said.
This was Trump's third speech since the overhaul of his campaign hierarchy, which saw Kellyanne Conway promoted to campaign manager and Breitbart News executive Stephen Bannon named chief executive. Like recent speeches, he delivered Saturday's mostly off a teleprompter, which has forced him to stay on script, much to the liking of Republicans.
"If the last two speeches are any indication, it's a home run," Rep. Dave Brat told the Washington Examiner prior to his speech. "[T]he last couple nights he showed [that] if you're an African-American in the inner city and you've got a kid in the public system, how are they doing? So he made it personal and powerful ... The small guy isn't doing well and they need to, and I think he laid it out in a clear case, so I'm — if he keeps doing that, we're going to win in November."
Despite his praise for the focus on African-Americans in recent speeches, Brat, a former professor at Randolph-Macon College, hopes that Trump's focus will turn to younger voters and millennials.
"I think he's got to continue to broaden [the focus] like he's doing, so now he's spread it to inner cities. He's going to pick up some Hispanic votes. And then the kids are next," Brat said. "[H]e's a marketing guy, right? So it's hard to overcome Bernie [Sanders] and everything's free, right? That's a pretty powerful pitch. So we'll see what his team comes up with. I'm putting my money on the Trump marketing genius.
Asked if he hopes the millennial pitch is next, Brat said he hoped that would be the case. "We gotta have them," he said. "The current status quo in D.C., you got $19 trillion in debt, $100 trillion in unfunded liabilities — that's $100 trillion, and Medicare and Social Security are done in 2034, so the kids won't have them. So if you can't with those facts, you're not a winner. The facts are on our side. It's a matter of, can you give that in a powerful way, and I think he can."