Posted on June 17, 2024

Trump Rallies MAGA Base, Courts Black Voters in Detroit

Natalie Allison, Politico, June 15, 2024

In a span of two hours Saturday, Donald Trump walked onto stages twice in this battleground state — once as pyrotechnics flashed around him before some 8,000 MAGA loyalists, and earlier, in a predominately Black church where he is still laboring to make gains.

For Trump, who is trying to rally base voters while also cutting into President Joe Biden’s support among people of color, the appearances at two different ends of the city — and with two starkly different demographics — illustrated the ground Trump still has to make up here.

Unlike with his base at the mostly white Turning Point Action conference inside a downtown convention center, Trump’s reception at the church in a low-income neighborhood, while mostly warm, was at times reserved — or, in one case, worse.


And some of Trump’s harshest rhetoric on illegal immigration — including that Black people should repel what he called an “invasion of your jobs” — drew only tepid applause, though the crowd rose to its feet as he bashed “radical left wing gender ideology,” among other topics that resonated.


Trump’s campaign that afternoon had announced a “Black Americans for Trump” initiative to coincide with the upcoming Juneteenth holiday, sharing endorsement messages from prominent Black politicians, entertainers, athletes and faith leaders. Among those included in Trump’s new Black voter coalition was former Democratic Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, who served time in prison for felony fraud and racketeering convictions, and whose sentence Trump commuted before leaving office.

And inside the sweltering church, a Black Republican activist, Valerie Parker, offered Trump a welcome: “Thank you, Mr. President, for coming to the hood.”


At the church roundtable, Trump called Biden “the worst president for Black people.” Looking around the room, sandwiched between several of Detroit’s Black community leaders at tablecloth-draped folding table, he vowed that he would come back for Sunday service someday.

The inroads Trump makes in Detroit could be critical in a battleground that is likely to be decided at the margins. And he is starting from behind here.

Wayne County, home to heavily-Democratic Detroit, went solidly to Biden in 2020 who won the county by 38 points. In Detroit itself, with a majority Black population, Biden carried 94 percent of the vote.

Trump and his campaign, however, are seizing on gains they’ve made with voters of color in the years since — or at least on a loss of support Biden has experienced with them. And even marginal improvements for Trump in the Detroit area could help propel him in a state he won in 2016, before losing four years later.


The church’s senior pastor, the Rev. Lorenzo Sewell, said he was not taking a position on either candidate in the election. He has spoken positively about Biden in the past, but told the Detroit Free Press he was encouraged that the Trump campaign had reached out about holding the event.

During the event, Sewell criticized Biden for having merely gone to a NAACP meeting, and not visiting “the hood.”