Trump courts Biden’s Black, Hispanic coalition in NY

Donald Trump rolled the dice on a campaign stop in deepest Democratic New York Thursday seeking to woo Black and Latino voters whose support for Joe Biden has shown signs of faltering.

The event, in the Bronx where the Republican was trounced in 2020, follows a trend of Trump sorties into traditionally liberal states, most recently in New Jersey and Minnesota.

But his speech in the South Bronx was more about signaling that he can draw large crowds among the Hispanic and African-American coalition seen as crucial to Biden’s hopes of retaining the White House.

Though the crowd was predominantly white, it was markedly more diverse than at the recent event in New Jersey.

In his first rally in his former hometown since 2016, Trump railed against uncontrolled immigration, invoking falsehoods about violent criminals crossing the southern border. 

“You look at these people… they are physically fit, they’re 19 to 25, almost everyone is a male, and they look like fighting age — I think they’re building an army,” he said.

“African Americans are getting slaughtered, Hispanic Americans are getting slaughtered,” he said, repeating debunked claims about crimes allegedly committed by migrants.

In fact, New York City in 2023 saw murders down 12 percent year-on-year, according to police figures. Overall crime was five percent lower in April than in the same month last year.

The Bronx is a Democratic  neighborhood where almost two-thirds of residents are Hispanic and one-third are Black.

There were isolated pockets of organized Democratic Party and trade union opposition to the rally, while one woman in a blue T-shirt held a banner aloft that read “convict Trump already.”

Ahead of Trump’s motorcade sweeping through Crotona Park to the stage, a line almost a mile (1.5 kilometers) long zigzagged around basketball courts and ponds as local children climbed on a crane that held a giant banner.

“He’s from New York, I don’t take offense to him being here,” said 68-year-old Bronx resident George Marrero, who had perched on a wooden fence to watch.

“He has a tiny bit of support here and I believe he’ll do a tiny bit better this time.”

Banner year

The rally caps a turbulent period for Trump, who has been kept off the campaign trail by his criminal trial in Manhattan for allegedly falsifying business records to conceal hush money payments made to cover up a sex scandal.

When the rally was arranged, the tycoon had been anticipating another week in New York as proceedings draw to a close — although the judge sent the jury home on Tuesday for a week-long pause.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the liberal Democratic congresswoman whose district includes parts of the Bronx, said Trump was rallying in the borough “because he’s got the legal version of an ankle bracelet… truly an embarrassment to him.” 

New York state last voted for a Republican president when Ronald Reagan was reelected in 1984. 

Biden won almost 85 percent of the vote in the Bronx in 2020 and went on to welcome the first African-American women to the Supreme Court bench and to the vice presidency.

The White House has been touting Biden’s accomplishments for both Hispanic and Black communities on home ownership and economic opportunity, lowering child poverty, and expanding voting rights and health care.

Racial controversies

Meanwhile Trump was roundly rebuked when he argued recently that the 88 felony charges he faces in multiple jurisdictions make him relatable to Black voters mistreated by the criminal justice system.

But polling shows he has been making inroads with Black and Hispanic Americans, particularly younger voters who are increasingly disengaged from politics and those who blame Biden over a surge in migrant crossings at the southern border.

The latest Ipsos Survey of Black Americans found that while Biden maintains a comfortable edge over Trump, his favorability is down seven points since 2022, while those certain to vote sank from 74 to 62 percent between elections.

“I’m here because I like president Trump, said 55-year-old retiree Richard Lyman, who had traveled with a friend from Poughkeepsie in upstate New York to catch a glimpse of his political idol.

“And I’m here because of the last four years — the open border, everything costs more, the guy in charge is a liar.” 

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