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'We're supposed to be Democrats': Black Trump supporters on why they back the president

Julia Terruso, The Philadelphia Inquirer on

Published in Political News

Trump has also driven some black Republicans away. James Williams, a former GOP ward leader who changed his registration to Democrat in 2018, said he's one of at least four African American Republican ward leaders who abandoned the party since 2016.

"The local Republican Party is now, it's cultish," said Williams, who is volunteering with the Democratic presidential campaign of former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. "If you're not with Trump then you're not a Republican."

At the event at First Immanuel Baptist last month, about 40 people listened as Harrison Floyd, executive director of the Black Voices for Trump coalition, kicked off the event. "I think a lot of us in the community hear: 'We're not supposed to support this president; we're Democrats, we're supposed to be Democrats.'"

The campaign was criticized recently when affiliated nonprofits started offering cash via a raffle to people who attended Trump events in predominantly black areas. Philadelphia's gathering did not involve any giveaways.

Calvin Tucker, chairman of the Philadelphia Black Republican Council and a ward leader, is running to be a national convention delegate for Trump in Pennsylvania's April 28 primary.

This week, Tucker circulated petitions in the city, where Democrats outnumber Republicans 7 to 1. Tucker is also traveling around the state as a surrogate for the Trump campaign.

 

"I'm telling folks that we need to reach out and we need to talk about the accomplishments and that's how we bring folks in. It's not personality-based, it's performance-based," Tucker said.

Trump's strategists believe his best pitch to black voters -- like to all voters -- is the economy. Unemployment among African Americans is down almost 3% since 2016.

Yet his track record also includes reports he has used the "N-word" in private, describing African nations as "shithole countries," and defending as "good people" some of the white supremacists involved in a deadly clash in Charlottesville, Va., in 2017.

Trump's black supporters address the Charlottesville example, one of the most widely condemned of his presidency, in various ways.

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