WEST BEND, Wis. — Donald Trump made his most direct pitch yet to African American voters Tuesday, connecting the recent violence in nearby Milwaukee to what he described as the plight of African Americans nationwide.
The midwest city experienced two nights of unrest after a black police officer fatally shot a black man who police said was armed and a threat.
"Law and order must be restored," Trump said in this mostly white suburb an hour north of Milwaukee. "It must be restored for the sake of all, but most especially for the sake of those living in the affected communities, of which there are many."
Trump called blacks the "main victims" of the riots in Milwaukee. "It’s their jobs, it’s their homes, it’s their schools and communities that will suffer the most as a result," Trump said. "There’s no compassion in tolerating lawless conduct for anyone."
What was originally billed as a rally evolved into a roughly forty minute speech delivered with the assistance of teleprompters that included a reaction to the recent violence in Milwaukee.
Trump mentioned the words "African American" over a dozen times as he argued the Democrat-inclined voting bloc that they were being taken for granted by Hillary Clinton. "We reject the bigotry of Hillary Clinton, which panders to and talks down to communities of color and sees them only as votes," Trump said. "That's all they care about, not as individual human beings worthy of a better future. They have taken advantage."
Trump, however, has not campaigned in communities of color this cycle and turned down an invitation to speak at the NAACP's annual convention in July. In the latest NBC/WSJ/Marist poll, Trump polled at just 1% with African American voters, compared to 91% for Clinton.
Still, Trump sought to overcome the daunting disparity by directly asking for their votes. "I'm asking for the vote of every African American citizen struggling in our country today who wants a different and much better future."
Trump also spoke more broadly about restoring "law and order." The GOP nominee once again proclaimed his full support for the law enforcement community, thanking police for their service in Wisconsin and across the country in these "difficult, difficult, difficult times."
He also repeated his common refrain that politics is stacked against the average American, urging his audience to buck the political class with domestic "regime change."
"I’m fighting, all of us across the country are fighting for peaceful regime change in our own country," Trump said. "The media-donor political complex that's bled this country dry has to be replaced with a new government of, by, and for the people."
Trump said as president he would push for new rules on speaking fees. With an implicit reference toward the Clintons, Trump told the crowd he would bar spouses of federal officials from collecting speaking fees, preventing officials from "trading favors for cash."
In addition, Trump said he would ask senior officials in his administration to sign agreements banning them from accepting speaking fees from "corporations with registered lobbyists for five years after leaving office or from any entity tied to a foreign government."
Some of Trump’s own advisors might not pass the new test. Gen. Michael Flynn, who was floated as a possible Trump vice presidential pick but remains a close ally and advisor, received speaking fees from Russia.
For a candidate who has routinely vowed not to change, the tone, language and delivery of Trump's speech were a stark contrast from his typical large rallies It was also the second delivered with help of a teleprompter — Trump has mercilessly mocked his opponents for using them — in as many days.
His audience appeared not to mind. At one point Trump led the crowd in a spontaneous chant of "America First!"