WASHINGTON — Promising to deliver Donald Trump and the Republicans the highest percentage of black votes since 1965 Voting Rights Act, the founder of Black Men for Bernie is now launching Trump for Urban Communities.
Bruce Carter is touting the effort "largest ground game in the country" targeted at black voters — with a platform focused on urban investment, self-sufficiency, and resources for small businesses. "It's about teaching people how to fish instead of giving them a fish and walking away," Carter told BuzzFeed News in an interview.
He said he’s aiming to place 2,000 staffers in North Carolina, Florida, and Pennsylvania, hiring them to make direct voter contact and pitch Trump's gospel by setting up barbershops as "our information hubs." This would be an enormous project; by comparison, Hillary Clinton’s campaign had about 700 staffers total in recent months.
Carter believes his "partnership" with the Trump campaign is "ten times the value" of an endorsement. "A partnership means that both [sides] have an obligation to do something. It allows me to hold people accountable."
"It's about getting people to buy into the partnership. No other campaign has considered spending this kind of money."
Carter said he had assurances from top Trump aides that the candidate and campaign was committed to making the effort successful, but he didn't have specifics on what the Trump campaign plans to spend on Trump for Urban Communities. The Trump campaign did not respond to a request for comment. A website for the outreach strategy previewed by BuzzFeed News describes it as "a movement to ensure that Donald Trump wins the presidency and the Republicans retain Congress during the 2016 Election."
Carter criticized political parties and campaigns who send staff from outside of areas instead of hiring inside communities where people need help. "We're going to have train them and teach them how to market Donald Trump.”
The site also features video clips of Louis Farrakhan slamming Clinton as "a wicked woman," clashing with Barack Obama on the debate stage, and her using the term "superpredators" in a 1996 speech. "We cannot afford to allow a self-serving POTUS and the Democrats to prevail, especially in light of the Supreme Court appointments (one to potentially three) that will occur this election cycle," the site reads.
Carter, the story goes, joined the political revolution when his daughter woke him up to Bernie’s insurgent candidacy. He quickly sprung into action, self-funding a voter registration effort focused on young black men, traveling by wrapped bus to host rallies across the country — all while demonstrating a healthy disdain for Clinton.
Since supporting Sanders’ unsuccessful bid, Carter has been an outspoken critic of black voters' loyalty to the Democratic Party. He envisions a politics in which black voters' are courted by both parties, and sees Trump for Urban Communities as part of an evolution in political identity in which "the people are the true benefactors of that process."
His message echoes that of Trump, who has alienated black voters with his overtures, declaring that with failing schools and little opportunity, "What do you have to lose?"
Said Carter, "What we've gotten from the Democrat Party, it's been zero. So now it's like you have no option but to do something different if you want a different result."
Carter said his foray into organizing black support for the Republican ticket has been a quandary for black Republicans discouraged by the GOP's level of commitment to black outreach.
"Some black Republicans have asked me, 'Are you anti-Hillary or are you pro-Trump?' I'm not against anyone person, but I'm for a Trump partnership if it provides what we need for our community."
Carter said black Republicans seeking to make inroads with black voters have "great respect" for what Black Men for Bernie does, particularly for its ability to relate to communities of color and engage voters in the political process. "They are disappointed with level of outreach they have not done, and that they've not made greater effort to expand base with unfavorable candidate. There are people out in space who are not being given any direction."
Carter said that he'd been contacted by the Green and Libertarian parties after Bernie lost the nomination. Various black Republicans from around the country were looking to partner with him, but Clinton camp never reached out, he said, a circumstance, unlike that of his anger with the DNC's handling of Sanders' nomination, that he can reconcile: "Why would you reach out to something that you own? It's yours," he said.
Carter said allegations that have dogged Trump, such as housing discrimination and former colleagues declaring that he's never cared about people of color don't bother him. He’s voting for him — "I would feel like a hypocrite if I didn't," he said — and doesn't believe voters care all that much. Or he's banking on that, anyway.
"The thought process is that people won't vote for Trump because he's racist or crazy and he's talked [negatively] about people," Carter said. Not so for black voters who are looking for an opportunity, he said. "They don't care about that."
The politics, he said, are transactional for once: Trump's campaign and the other Republicans needs votes and voters need him commit to policy and access to improve communities.
"For me, [if Trump] is racist or not racist, it's irrelevant — we don't have to be the best of friends. I don't know where it's going to go but there's going to be a chance for people's lives to get better. Under Democrats, it's shown that it won't happen."
A spokesperson for the Trump campaign did not return a request for comment at time of publication.
Darren Sands is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Darren Sands at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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