Donald Trump Seems To Think Miami's "Little Haiti" Is The Same As The Country Of Haiti

During a discussion about the Clinton Foundation's work in Haiti during Wednesday's presidential debate, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump said he had recently been to Little Haiti and had heard critiques of the Foundation during his visit; thus, Trump seemed to equate the predominately-Haitian neighborhood in Miami with the country of Haiti.

In his critique of the Clinton Foundation, Trump stated, "...And you take a look at the people of Haiti. I was in Little Haiti the other day in Florida. And I want to tell you, they hate the Clintons because what's happened in Haiti with the Clinton Foundation is a disgrace." Mr. Trump's words seem to imply that he is using Little Haiti, a small Haitian neighborhood in Miami Florida, as a proxy for the country and people of Haiti and their related sentiments about the Clinton Foundation. His words also seem to indicate that, as a Presidential candidate, he equates visiting an American neighborhood with a high representation of people from one country to actually visiting that country, despite the obvious differences.

As expected, social media reactions to Trump's assertion were strong and mostly critical. Many users pointed out Trump's flawed logic, joking that, if using Trump's metrics, someone could say they have been to China after visiting Chinatown in New York.

While Trump's assertion seemingly equating Little Haiti with the country of Haiti was erroneous and inappropriate, there is likely a strong reason why he is seeking to appeal to the voters of Little Haiti, if indeed that was part of the rationale behind his statement. Florida is a swing state in the 2016 presidential election and the Haitian vote plays a significant role in the state. While the Haitian population in Florida has traditionally voted Democratic, WLRN News reports that the Democrats and Clinton are struggling to fully capture the Haitian vote in Florida during this election, partially due to Haitian-Americans' mixed feelings about the work of the Clinton Foundation in Haiti.

Trump's recent visit to Little Haiti, which he mentioned during the debate, indicates that he, as Slate reports, believes Haitian Americans in Florida, "might be persuaded to vote against the former Secretary of State." The votes of Haitian- Americans in Florida are particularly crucial, as they make up two percent of Florida's population, and Clinton and Trump are separated by less than one point in Florida.

Thus, Trump's presumed goal of trying to steer the traditionally-Democratic Haitian-Americans in Florida away from voting for Clinton may explain his desire to specifically mention Little Haiti during Wednesday's debate; however, he likely came up very short in terms of Haitian-American outreach by implying that a Haitian-American neighborhood and its people are equivalent to the country of Haiti and its citizens in terms of experiences, opinions, and the like. This is disrespectful to both the people of Little Haiti and the citizens of Haiti, and likely did little to improve Haitian-American voters' opinions of Trump.