Donald Trump pushes law and order agenda in direct appeal to black voters

August 17, 2016 GMT

Republican Donald Trump made his most direct appeal yet Tuesday for black voters in the presidential race, pushing forward an agenda to restore law and order and revitalize inner-city neighborhoods that he said suffer from years of misguided Democratic policies.

In a speech delivered not far from Milwaukee neighborhoods rocked by anti-police riots, Mr. Trump laid the blame for urban despair and conflict between police and minorities at the feet of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

“I am running to offer you a much better future,” Mr. Trump said in a speech in West Bend, Wisconsin.

“Crime and violence is an attack on the poor and it will never be accepted in a Trump administration,” he said.

He said the policies holding back minority neighborhoods were part of the “rigged system” led by Mrs. Clinton, who he said pandered to black voters but didn’t really care about their suffering.


“The political class that Mrs. Clinton has been a part of for 30 years has abandoned the people of this county. They only care about themselves,” he said. “I am going to give the people their voice back.”

Mr. Trump argued that Democratic policies are responsible for the persistent high unemployment, inadequate education and substandard living conditions that blight inner-city neighborhoods.

He has made similar appeals to minorities, but the pitch has failed to win significant support from black voters. Polls show an overwhelming majority of black and Hispanic voters as many as 99 percent of blacks in one poll siding with Mrs. Clinton.

The speech revived Mr. Trump’s vow to be the “law and order candidate,” which he first declared in a similar speech last month in response to the sniper ambush that killed five Dallas police officers at a Black Lives Matter demonstration over police-involved shootings of black citizens.

He was scheduled to hold a campaign rally in West Bend but altered plans to deliver the scripted law-and-order speech in response to the rioting in Milwaukee. He wrote the speech with former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, a close adviser to Mr. Trump who is traveling with the campaign.

The riot in Milwaukee was the latest demonstration to turn violent after a police shooting.

In Milwaukee, a black police officer Saturday afternoon shot and killed 23-year-old Sylville Smith, who fled after being stopped for acting suspiciously. Mr. Smith was carrying an illegal handgun and refused orders to drop it, police said.

The protests that followed in the predominately black Sherman Park neighborhood where Mr. Smith died turned violent Saturday and Sunday nights, with gunfire and rioters setting business and police cars ablaze.

The crowds pelted riot police with bottles and bricks, wounding eight officers. About a dozen people were arrested, and one person suffered a gunshot wound, police said.


After a 10 p.m. curfew was imposed and community leaders called for calm Monday, the city was relatively quite throughout the day Tuesday before Mr. Trump delivered the speech.

Mr. Trump’s framing the tensions between black communities and police as a law-and-order issue risks alienating black voters, who interpret “law and order” as a racist dog whistle.

However, the pro-police stance puts Mr. Trump on the side of Americans across the country who are shocked by the riots and fearful of terrorism in a world that appears increasingly out of control and dangerous.

Mrs. Clinton has repeatedly sided with the Black Lives Matter movement amid the ongoing conflict. She snubbed the National Fraternal Order of Police, the largest police union in the country, by not even seeking their endorsement.

The speech marked the second consecutive day in which Mr. Trump delivered prepared remarks from a teleprompter, breaking with his usual impromptu stump speech.

Republican strategists have urged Mr. Trump to be more disciplined on the campaign trail and avoid the casual remarks that often draw negative coverage by the news media and provide ammunition for Mrs. Clinton and other critics.

Mr. Trump’s swing through Wisconsin, where he’s trailing in the polls, garnered support from top Republican leaders who previously had distanced themselves form the New York billionaire. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who once vehemently opposed Mr. Trump’s candidacy, accompanied the nominee to several events, including the speech in West Bend.

The governor’s presence also reinforced the law-and-order message. He declared a state of emergency Sunday in response to the riots.

Earlier in the day, Mr. Walker blamed Mrs. Clinton’s rhetoric for “inflaming the situation.”

“I think people understand in that neighborhood and in Sherman Park and in Milwaukee they want law enforcement to step up and protect them,” he said on Fox News’ “Fox Friends” program.

Mrs. Clinton said at a campaign event Monday that the riots in Milwaukee showed that respect between police and communities must be a two-way street.

“Look at what’s happening in Milwaukee right now,” she said. “We’ve got urgent work to do to rebuild trust between police and communities, and get back to the fundamental principle: Everyone should have respect for the law and be respected by the law.”

Mr. Walker wasn’t always on the same page with Mr. Trump.

When he dropped out of the GOP presidential primary race in September, the governor urged fellow Republicans to unite in an effort to derail Mr. Trump. “This is fundamentally important to the future of the party and more importantly, to the future of our country,” he said at the time.

He previously skipped Mr. Trump’s events in the state. But this time he proudly joined the Trump Train.

“If Donald Trump’s going to win here and win across the country, he needs to make it clear that the race is between him and Hillary Clinton,” he said. “Every day we talk about Hillary Clinton is a better day for him because people can see here and across the country she’s fundamentally unfit” to be the president.