Trump’s campaign aimed to attract Black Philly voters with cigars and cognac

Former President Donald Trump’s campaign and some of his deputies held two events in Philadelphia on Tuesday aimed at engaging Black Philly voters, but it’s unclear how many of them got the message.

In the afternoon, the Trump campaign’s first office opening took place in Philadelphia as part of the “Black Americans for Trump” initiative. However, the office is located in Northeast Philadelphia, one of the whitest and most conservative parts of Philadelphia. Later, two black congressmen who support Trump organized a “Congress, Cognac and Cigars” event near Northern Liberties to “get the votes of black men.”

The crowd at the office opening in the tight Holmesburg row house, formerly an ophthalmologist’s office, was diverse, but the census tract was 65% white and the district voted for Trump in 2020.

“To win the fight, you have to go where the fish are,” U.S. Rep. Wesley Hunt (Texas) said outside his office. “We are boldly going where no Republican has gone in decades, and we are going directly to the community.”

Asked about the event’s location, a Trump team spokesman noted that the Northeast is rapidly diversifying and said it was the first of many.

The events came less than a week after President Joe Biden visited Philadelphia to make his own appeal to black voters. Polls show Trump has more support among Black voters, especially Black men nationwide, than he did in 2020, while Biden still leads in that demographic, but not as convincingly as he did four years ago.

Pennsylvania Republican Party Chairman Lawrence Tabas kicked off the office opening from a podium with a sign reading “Black Americans for Trump” and congratulated Republican candidates for office, including GOP Senate candidate Dave McCormick, Attorney General nominee Dave Sunday, State Treasurer Stacey Garrity and Auditor General Tim DeFoor, who were not there.

The other speakers were Oz Sultan, a political consultant from Harlem, and Hunt, the chief guest.

“Black issues are American issues,” Hunt said. “We hate what is happening at the border. We don’t like to be dangerous… and the person who will save the country from being on the brink is Donald John Trump.”

The Biden campaign wasted no time in criticizing the optics that no Black Pennsylvanians would speak at the event, and noted that last week Trump was convicted of 34 felonies as part of a scheme to illegally influence the 2016 election. still cash payment to a porn star.

“Donald Trump is a convicted felon who couldn’t find a real Pennsylvanian to headline his fake event,” said Kellan White, a senior adviser coordinating the campaign in Pennsylvania. “He spent years running racist campaigns, implementing a racist agenda, and harming black communities at every opportunity he had as president.”

It’s common for presidential campaigns to hire out-of-town surrogates, and many of Trump’s allies are eager to aid because they, too, are competing to become his running mate.

Cigars and cognac

Hunt and his colleague, U.S. Rep. Byron Donalds (R., Fla.), hosted the evening event at the cigar bar. In a discussion moderated by sports journalist Michelle Tafoya, Hunt and Donalds discussed why Republicans are struggling to promote conservatism in the Black community.

They argue that black voters share Republican values ​​on issues such as public safety and border security, but distrust the GOP because of the policies of previous generations.

“The reason Democrats have power over the Black community is because our parents’ parents keep telling us, ‘You have to vote Democrat,’” Hunt said. “It’s up to us, this generation, to say, ‘Well, why?'”

The room was mostly black, but about half of those were the addresses listed on the event login sheet listed addresses outside of Philadelphia.

At one point in the discussion, Tafoya asked Donalds about the differences between black men and women’s perceptions of politics. (Polls have shown that Trump’s support among black voters is overwhelmingly male.)

“First of all, there is a difference between men and women anyway,” Donalds said. “Humans were created by God to be conquerors and hunters. That’s who they are. And so the black man in America today looks around and asks, “How can I hunt for my people and hunt for my family?” … They look at what Joe Biden did and say, “I can’t hunt!” You took my spear. You took my bow.’”

He said black women could also turn against the Democratic Party over issues such as transgender rights and borders.

“Black women,” he said, “look at their sons and say, ‘Now, wait a minute. Are you telling me that my son might become a girl? NO. Are you telling me that my son and daughter who need an education must now leave and live less than because of illegal immigrants in Philadelphia? NO.'”

At another point, Donalds said he was starting to see a “black family revival,” which he described as young people creating nuclear families and “helping breathe the resurgence of the black middle class in America.” He went on to say that these family values ​​had previously been destroyed by Democratic policies that black voters adopted after they became loyal to the party due to the Civil Rights Movement.

“You see, during Jim Crow, the Black family stayed together. “Under Jim Crow, not only were more Black people conservative — Black people have always been conservative — but more Black people voted conservative,” he said. “And then HEW, Lyndon Johnson – you went down that road and now we are where we are,” he added, referring to the former U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare.

The so-called Great Society programs, initiated by former President Lyndon Johnson in the 1960s, included civil rights legislation, the creation of Medicaid for low-income Americans, and the expansion of federal food stamp, welfare and housing programs.

The Battle for Black Voters in Philadelphia

The cigar series, which includes events in other cities, debuted in Philadelphia a week after Biden launched the Black Voters for Biden Coalition at Girard College in Philadelphia last week.

With five months to go before the general election, Trump has a slight lead over Biden in most emergency polls. Biden’s campaign has established twenty offices in Pennsylvania, and the president has visited Pennsylvania seven times this year.

Trump, along with the Republican National Committee and the state party, are just starting to make a presence in Pennsylvania.

Akbar Muslim, 61, a retired flooring installer from West Oak Lane, attended the opening of Trump’s office. Muslim, who is black, said he thinks more black voters are turning to Trump because they are frustrated with the economy and upset about Trump’s felony conviction.

“He is being persecuted. Black people understand that,” Muslim said. “We feel like we are being persecuted… But it’s also about who will put more food on your table and lower your bills? “Many of us feel like elitist Democrats don’t live in the real world.”

Adjustment: A previous version of this story incorrectly described who hosted the “Cigars and Cognac” event. It was led by U.S. Rep. Wesley Hunt (R., Texas).

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