Latino and black officeholders on Tuesday dismissed Donald Trump’s outreach to minority communities, saying he is in “panic mode” and "becoming unhinged."
The congressional members and a New York city official, speaking as Hillary Clinton supporters, said Trump’s pleas for support from their respective communities showed he is “grossly out of touch,” and that he is awakening to the fact that he is performing poorly in communities of color.
“Donald Trump is really becoming unhinged. He is in panic mode,” said Rep. Yvette Clarke, D-N.Y.
Trump has called on African Americans “who want to see a better future” to vote for him, saying in a rally over the weekend that Democrats’ policies have failed them and Latinos, left them in poverty and in crime-ridden war zones, without jobs and homes.
“And I ask you this – crime, all of the problems – to the African Americans, who I employ so many, so many people, to the Hispanics, tremendous people: What the hell do you have to lose? Give me a chance. I’ll straighten it out. I’ll straighten it out. What do you have to lose?” Trump said in Ohio Monday.
Rep. G.K. Butterfield, chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, called Trump’s question an insult. He and others offered their own lists of how Trump could reach out to minority communities.
If he was serious about connecting with the communities, he would “disavow his long history of racial attacks,” “apologize for having discriminated against black families,” “disavow support for white supremacists,” “would not suggest his supporters beat up protesters,” and “would not dismiss those in Black Lives Matter,” said Butterfield, D-N.C.
Trump met with a group of supportive GOP Hispanics in New York over the weekend. Some left the private meeting at Trump’s home buoyed by the discussion and predicting a change in Trump's calls for mass deportations. But his campaign since has raised doubts that he plans to soften his policies.
Melissa Mark-Viverito, speaker of the New York City Council, said Trump has been consistent in "demonizing" immigrants and Latinos and "there's no way of faking your way through this, that you have a different point of view or that you are pivoting."
"He has said Mexicans are rapists. Mexicans are bringing crime into this country,” she said.
A Trump campaign spokesman did not immediately respond to an email requesting comment.
Ashley Bell, a spokesman for the Republican Party, responded that "it would take an entire lifetime for anyone to commit the disastrous harms the Clintons have committed against African Americans."
Bell blamed former President Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton for laws that led to the incarceration of African Americans in the country. Hillary Clinton was First Lady when president Bill Clinton signed a 1994 law that often is blamed for the increased incarcerations. Bell said he holds her responsible too because she was an advocate for the legislation signed by Bill Clinton.
A Politifact analysis of similar accusations by Black Lives Matter activists found that while Hillary Clinton championed some of the policies in the legislation, prison population growth began in the late 1980s, in part, because of the War on Drugs of the George H.W. Bush administration and the tough on crime policies of the Richard Nixon administrations. Several states had also passed tougher anti-crime policies that helped expand the prison population, Politifact reported.
Regarding Hispanics, Republican Party spokeswoman Helen Aguirre Ferré said the party is a better options for all Americans "providing greater opportunities for good jobs, a strong economy, school choice and religious freedom which are of particular interests to the African American and Hispanic voters."
"We are excited to have a candidate who, rather than pander to our communities, is aggressively going after their votes," Ferré said.
Trump will get Latinos and blacks out to vote, said Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., but they won't turn out to answer Trump's call. Instead, Trump will "rile up everybody" to vote against him, he said.
“We love this country,” Gutierrez said. “We love it so much we will not let the bigoted, racist, prejudiced man step one step in closer to that phone in the Oval Office.”