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Donald Trump Campaign To Focus On Black Voter Outreach


Donald Trump's presidential campaign is attempting to appeal to communities of color. But it's going to be a tough road. A recent Washington Post poll shows 94 percent of black voters disapprove of Trump. That's something Omarosa Manigault is trying to change. She worked in the Bill Clinton White House but made her name on Donald Trump's reality show "The Apprentice." Now she's director of African-American outreach for Donald Trump. We reached her via Skype, and I started by asking her about the Trump campaign strategy for reaching black voters.

OMAROSA MANIGAULT: Well, it is a 76-page strategy, so I - in my three minutes that I have with you, I'll just say that it is important for Mr. Trump to make sure that all folks are included in his vision for this country and included, I mean, improving the conditions in the inner cities, particularly where I grew up in Youngstown, Ohio, where the average income is about $13,000, where unemployment is at an all-time high, particularly for young men under 30 - black men under 30 - creating jobs and creating the opportunities for people to get training for those jobs and then making sure that those jobs are not shipped overseas. And so Donald is very concerned about the economic conditions, particularly of African-Americans in this country.

HU: On this topic of inclusiveness, on a lot of fronts, Donald Trump has staked out what sounds to many as a xenophobic or anti-immigrant position. He's even won over the support of some white nationalists. So how will you convince people of color to swing his way?

MANIGAULT: Let's be clear - Donald Trump says things that, you know, challenge people's thoughts on race and race relations in this country. And they are, at times, racial. But the charges that he - or any of those things are not substantiated. The truth of the matter is that Donald Trump has been in the public eye for years and years and years. And we didn't hear these accusations until he decided to run to become president of the United States, and then you hear his opponents saying these things.

HU: What kind of advice are you giving Donald Trump about inclusiveness?

MANIGAULT: Well, a lot of what I do with Mr. Trump is really guide him in terms of what's happening in the communities. He had no idea, until he started running, how many young black men and women were dying in the streets of Chicago. And so those are issues that I not only advise him on - that these are things that have to stop, that we have to find ways to make sure that the value of black lives in inner cities around this country is elevated. And so yeah, those are things that I talk with him about and that are important to his campaign.

HU: What Trump policies would solve those problems?

MANIGAULT: Job creation is going to be key. If you start to create opportunities for people, you'll see the number of people who are on welfare, the number of people who just feel like they have no hope - that number goes down. And his policies that really focus on businesses will help create jobs that will give us the opportunity to be self-reliant and to make a difference.

HU: Omarosa, let me ask a little bit about you. You were a Democrat until joining the Trump campaign, I understand, and have supported Barack Obama in the past. So what explains your shift, personally?

MANIGAULT: Well, I think it's a great question. And, in fact, a big portion of what I'm doing as African-American outreach director is appealing to Democrats. I was - I worked for the Clintons. Unfortunately, it was during the impeachment time. And then I made the very tough decision, when both Senator Clinton and Senator Barack Obama were running, to support Barack Obama. And many in the Clinton camp weren't very pleased with me, even back then. But when Donald Trump entered this race, I knew that a lot of his policies aligned with what would improve my community.

HU: What will you be doing between now and Election Day?

MANIGAULT: As a Baptist minister, I still believe in the power of the pulpit and going into black churches, going into barbershops and beauty shops, going into homes and having very intimate town halls. So I'm very excited, but I only have 100 days to get this done.


MANIGAULT: And I'm up for the challenge (laughter).

HU: Omarosa Manigault is directing African-American outreach for the Donald Trump campaign. Omarosa, thanks.

MANIGAULT: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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