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Entrepreneurship, Wealth Gap Among Issues Leading to Black Voters to Trump

by Lauren Victoria Burke /

As the race for the White House moves past Super Tuesday, we've heard a lot about what Black voters may be thinking on the Democratic side, but what issues are Black Republicans most concerned about in an election that is down to five GOP candidates, but led by Donald Trump?

A closer look at Black conservative voters at this stage in the primary shows that the economy, support for small businesses, and closing the wealth gap are major issues that are driving support for Donald Trump and even leading some to cross party lines to vote for him.

"Nothing is more important to me than minority owned business. Minority owned businesses were the foundation of the Black community in the 1960s," says Carmen Moore Ziglar, a Black Republican in Alabama who spoke with NBCBLK on the eve of Super Tuesday.

"I know a lot of black people who are voting for Donald Trump. There's a lot of people who believe in what he's saying," Moore added.

GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump campaigns in South Carolina.
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks before the Greater Charleston Business Alliance, which supports minority businesses and is affiliated with the South Carolina African American Chamber of Commerce on September 23, 2015 in North Charleston, South Carolina.Charles Ommanney / The Washington Post/Getty Images

For Frank Vick, an African American democrat who voted for Barack Obama in 2008, “it’s Trump time.” The candidate's brash, straight-shooter style and potential to unite the nation has strong appeal.

“I'm from New York City, where Trump is from, and we in New York tell it like it is. And I think we need some more of that in the country,” Vick told NBC News' Jacob Rascon at a Trump rally in Virginia this week. “I think he's going to bring both parties together, in co-independence, I think he's going to put the country back to where it needs to be."

Vick also dismissed Mr. Trump's insufficient rebuke of white supremacist David Duke over the weekend.

"When I was small, Donald Trump financed our basketball team to help us stay off the streets. So, I know a little bit more about Donald Trump than a lot of people," said Vick. "He's not a racist. He shouldn't be having to talk about David Duke."

"I hope that Mr. Trump will get that message across that you don't have to sit back and look for the government to employ you or some white man to employ you."

Richard Finley, a Black Republican in Birmingham, Ala., also supports Trump.

Finley told NBCBLK, "Mr. Trump is addressing a lot of things -- he's the only candidate from my perspective who understands the free enterprise concept of America. I hope that Mr. Trump will get that message across that you don't have to sit back and look for the government to employ you or some white man to employ you," he said.

Finley also said he was not overly concerned about the recent David Duke flap around Trump and was more focused on Trump's business related success.

"There are plenty of opportunities within the community… we're not going to build wealth working for somebody else on their plantation you have to create your own. With a straight up businessman and entrepreneur in the presidency we can begin that conversation again," Finley concluded.

There was an over 50 percent increase in Black-owned businesses between 2002 and 2007 with over 1.5 million Black firms. Over 90 percent of these businesses are sole proprietorships or partnerships.

Finley also brought up immigration, concerns around "flooding the labor market" and low wages as an issue he agreed with Trump on.

Other African American Republicans that NBCBLK spoke with prior to the controversy over Duke's endorsement of Trump this weekend also focused on free enterprise and wealth.

Elroy Sailor, who was a senior strategist for Sen. Rand Paul's 2016 presidential campaign, has been involved in Republican politics since being a junior at Morehouse College in 1988. Sailor has strategized with other Black Republicans on the national level for many years on both the policy and political sides of issues. Sailor says the wealth gap issue is vital for African Americans.

“...I think he's talking about issues that if all Americans would go into a confession booth - issues like illegal immigration, however you come down on it, we need to grapple with and resolve."

"You see that SBA Loans are now at an all-time low - 1.7 percent - it's an embarrassing statistic,” said Sailor. “We look at wealth and Black Americans - another thing we've been trying to promote from a policy perspective. The wealth gap is $111,000 for white families and $7,000 for Black families. So there is a huge wealth gap.”

Sailor believes the way to strengthen our nation is through better education, expanding home ownership and improving the job market.

Crystal Wright, a prominent conservative writer and commentator, who is also the author of the new book, “Con Job, How Democrats Gave Us Crime, Sanctuary Cities, Abortion Profiteering and Racial Division,” has not endorsed anyone but she did comment on 2016's most attention-getting candidate, real estate mogul Donald Trump.

“I know everyone doesn't agree with the way he's phrasing them, but I think he's talking about issues that if all Americans would go into a confession booth - issues like illegal immigration, however you come down on it, we need to grapple with and resolve," Wright, said.

Republican Candidate Donald Trump(L) arrives to talk to the press with Rev. Darrell Scott(C), senior pastor of the New Spirit Revival Center in Cleveland Heights (C)after meetings with prominent African American clerics at Trump Tower in New York November 30 ,2015.AFP/Getty Images

"Radical Muslims killing Americans is a problem we need to solve. Illegal immigration impacts jobs and disproportionately affects Black Americans. I like the issues Trump has raised. I like what he's done to the Republican establishment," Wright continued, referring to the fact that Trump's entry has upended the predictable GOP establishment orthodoxy.

But Wright also understands the downsides of Mr. Trump’s tactics.

"Donald Trump needs to leave the schoolyard antics and attacking Meghan Kelly out. That gave me pause. It's really like the high school bully and that needs to stop," Wright added. "It doesn't look statesman-like and it's not presidential."

"What bothers me is that Trump is really the only one modestly trying to go after the Black vote," Wright added. She also stated that it gets her attention that Trump has a tax plan for small business owners like herself.

"Donald Trump is the only candidate that has mentioned Black entrepreneurship. I've heard no other candidate say that. None."

Republican consultant Raynard Jackson, who runs a Republican 527 organization, provides a platform for candidates to speak with African Americans in their communities. When Jackson was asked what issue was most important to him there was no hesitation.

"Entrepreneurialism is number one, without question," Jackson said.

"Let's deal with the Black entrepreneur and make them more successful, it will drive job prospects," Jackson argued. He pointed out that small business policy is something the GOP can point to as a success when it comes to African Americans.

Joe Raedle

"Donald Trump is the only candidate that has mentioned Black entrepreneurship. I've heard no other candidate say that. None," Jackson pointed out.

Jackson also asserted that Black business ownership can also act as a remedy to re-entry for those formerly incarcerated. The U.S. leads the world incarceration with 2.3 million people behind bars.

"The Black businessman is the most likely to give that person a second chance," Jackson said. Though Jackson said he could not formally endorse a candidate because of his involvement in a 527, he had good things to say about former Ohio Gov. John Kasich.

Sen. Tim Scott, just one of three Black Republicans in Congress, endorsed Marco Rubio on February 1. “I’m putting my confidence and my trust in Marco Rubio because I believe that he takes us to that better future,” said Scott in his announcement. “Marco Rubio understands that here in America, it’s not about where you start. It’s about where you’re going.”

Moving forward in 2016, as Republican candidates move out of their narrow primary strategy and into general election mode, it's likely that many of the issues mentioned by Black Republicans will become prominent.

"The white vote is not going to get us into the White House," Wright mentioned as she commented on GOP strategy on the national level. "The math is not there. There has to be a focus on minorities and women."

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