Even Donald Trump's running mate Mike Pence couldn't keep a straight face when the GOP nominee made his most recent, outrageous call to black voters. Last week, Trump tried to persuade black Americans into his camp by suggesting that they were jobless and poor. Trump then declared to black voters, "What the hell do you have to lose?" by shifting their support from candidate Hillary Clinton to him. It was the Democratic Party, he wagered, that had left them in that supposed state, and so they therefore risked nothing by voting for him. The former reality television star then suggested he could — somehow, miraculously — secure support from 95 percent of black voters by 2020.
Even Pence wasn't buying that one. In an interview with Fox News host Ainsley Earhardt on Monday, the vice-presidential nominee laughed when asked about the remarks. Earhardt immediately interjected to ask why Pence was laughing, to which he shrugged "Well, that's Donald Trump."
Pence then tried to deflect: "Look, he has a heart for every American. And also he's a truth teller. He speaks the truth. It's been the failed policies of Democratic politicians that have harmed people living in the cities in this country now for generations... [A]nd his optimistic view about the 2020 when he's running for re-election, that's pure Donald Trump."
But his initial reaction — one of incredulous laughter — likely gave away the running mate's true feelings about what constitutes "pure Donald Trump."
Though if you ask Trump, he's "always had a great relationship with the blacks." (His preferred nomenclature "the blacks" is enough to reason that this statement is absurdly false.) But according to a report from FiveThirtyEight, just the opposite is true — Trump's national support of black voters falls at a dismal 2 percent. What's worse, he's bringing in the lowest number of black voters of almost any Republican presidential candidate since 1948. He not only trails behind Clinton in the polls, but likewise has lower numbers than Libertarian Gary Johnson and Green Party nominee Jill Stein.
Given Trump's consistent rhetoric against people of color, this should come as no surprise. But despite his claims, it seems that Trump is not even really trying to bring in the black vote. The Wall Street Journal reports that Trump has a history of altogether avoiding black neighborhoods on the campaign trail. He's been asked to speak at black colleges, churches, and the NAACP, but prefers to stick to areas where the population is overwhelmingly white.
His pitches to black voters therefore often come from white neighborhoods, despite sometimes being in close proximity to communities with a larger black population. His most recent call, for instance, came from a neighborhood with 96 percent white residents, though it was only a short 25 miles away from the largely black Milwaukee community that recently became victim to another office-involved shooting of a black man.
Trump's most recent claims therefore deserve not only our laughter, but our disgust. At least Pence got half of that right.