(NBC News) — Donald Trump made his most direct pitch yet to African American voters Tuesday, connecting the recent violence in nearby Milwaukee to what he described as the plight of African Americans nationwide.
The midwest city experienced two nights of unrest after a black police officer fatally shot a black man who police said was armed and a threat.
“Law and order must be restored,” Trump said in this mostly white suburb an hour north of Milwaukee. “It must be restored for the sake of all, but most especially for the sake of those living in the affected communities, of which there are many.”
Trump called blacks the “main victims” of the riots in Milwaukee. “It’s their jobs, it’s their homes, it’s their schools and communities that will suffer the most as a result,” Trump said. “There’s no compassion in tolerating lawless conduct for anyone.”
What was originally billed as a rally evolved into a roughly forty minute speech delivered with the assistance of teleprompters that included a reaction to the recent violence in Milwaukee.
Trump mentioned the words “African American” over a dozen times as he argued the Democrat-inclined voting bloc that they were being taken for granted by Hillary Clinton. “We reject the bigotry of Hillary Clinton, which panders to and talks down to communities of color and sees them only as votes,” Trump said. “That’s all they care about, not as individual human beings worthy of a better future. They have taken advantage.”
Trump, however, has not campaigned in communities of color this cycle and turned down an invitation to speak at the NAACP’s annual convention in July.
In the latest NBC/WSJ/Marist poll, Trump polled at just 1% with African American voters, compared to 91% for Clinton.
Still, Trump sought to overcome the daunting disparity by directly asking for their votes. “I’m asking for the vote of every African American citizen struggling in our country today who wants a different and much better future.”
Trump also spoke more broadly about restoring “law and order.” The GOP nominee once again proclaimed his full support for the law enforcement community, thanking police for their service in Wisconsin and across the country in these “difficult, difficult, difficult times.”