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Trump will visit a Detroit church as he courts Black voters

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DETROIT (AP) — Donald Trump will use back-to-back stops Saturday to court Black voters and a conservative group as the Republican presidential candidate works to stitch together a coalition of historically divergent interests in battleground Michigan.

Trump is scheduled to host an afternoon roundtable at an African American church in downtown Detroit. Later he will appear at the “People’s Convention” of Turning Point Action.

Trump’s weekend plans underscore the evolving political forces shaping the presidential election this fall as he tries to deny Democratic President Joe Biden a second term.

Few states are expected to matter more in November than Michigan, which Biden carried by less than 3 percentage points four years ago. And few voting groups matter more to Democrats than African Americans, who made up the backbone of Biden’s political base in 2020. But now, less than five months before Election Day, Black voters are expressing modest signs of disappointment with the 81-year-old Democrat.

Michael Whatley, the new chairman of the Republican National Committee, told Michigan Republicans at a dinner Friday that the state could not be more important.

“Everybody knows if we don’t win Michigan, we’re not going to have a Republican in the White House,” Whatley said. “Let me be more blunt: If we don’t win Michigan, we’re not going to have Donald Trump in the White House.”

“We are going to determine the fate of the world in this election in November,” he added.

Trump argues he can pull in more Black voters due to his economic and border security message, and that his felony indictments make him more relatable.

Democrats are offering a competing perspective.

“Donald Trump is so dangerous for Michigan and dangerous for America and dangerous for Black people,” Michigan Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist II, who is African American, said Friday. 

Among Black adults, Biden’s approval has dropped from 94% when he started his term in January 2021 to just 55%, according to an Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll published in March.

Trump won 8% of the Black vote in 2020, according to AP VoteCast. And in what is expected to be a close election, even a modest shift could be consequential.

Maurice Morrison, a 67-year-old lifelong Detroit resident, plans to attend Trump’s church appearance. Morrison acknowledged that Trump, for whom he voted twice before and plans to again, is deeply unpopular in his community and even inside his home.

“Once he decided to run for president as a Republican, that automatically made him racist. That’s his middle name now — ‘Trump is racist’ — everybody I talk to, all the people I know, my family,” said Morrison, who is Black. “The man cares.”

Meanwhile, thousands of conservative activists, most of them young and white, were eagerly awaiting Trump’s keynote address Saturday night.

Turning Point has emerged as a force in GOP politics in the Trump era, particularly among his “Make America Great Again” movement.

Turning Point, long popular among Trump’s MAGA fringe, is now a central player in mainstream Republican politics. The group’s weekend speaking program featured a long list of established Republican politicians, including U.S. Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., and South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, in addition U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., and former Trump counselor Steve Bannon, who is set to report to prison by July 1 to begin serving a four-month sentence for defying a U.S. House subpoena.

In his remarks Friday night, Vivek Ramaswamy, who has emerged as a fierce Trump ally since unsuccessfully challenging Trump for the GOP presidential nomination, called on conservatives to reject what he said was the Democrats’ embrace of diversity.

“I am sick and tired of celebrating our diversity,” Ramaswamy charged. “It means nothing unless there is something greater that unites us.”

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