Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump said at a predominantly Black church in Detroit Saturday he wanted to help rebuild the city and “there are many wrongs that should be made right” in the United States.
Two months before the election, Trump is struggling to attract African-American and other minority voters. He has spent much, if not all of his campaign, talking to overwhelmingly white audiences where he has made condescending remarks about people of color.
“I am here to listen to you,” Trump told the congregation at the Great Faith Ministries International. “As I prepare to campaign all across the nation, I will have the chance to lay out my economic plans, which will be so good for Detroit.”
Protesters were blocked from entering the church by church security and police. "The devil's in the pulpit," one protester shouted in a reference to Trump. Others shouted "Dump Trump."
Inside the church, Trump said the nation needs “a civil rights agenda of our time,” with better education and good jobs.
Seated in the front row next to Trump was Omarosa Manigault, a former contestant on Trump's reality television series who has been helping his campaign reach out to the Black community.
Also in attendance was Detroit native Ben Carson, the retired neurosurgeon who ran against Trump in the primaries and is now advising the campaign. Trump also visited Carson’s childhood house.
Trump recently, in front of a predominantly white audience, rhetorically asked African American voters "What do you have to lose" by voting for him. At the beginning of his presidential campaign, the billionaire presidential candidate described Mexican migrants as "rapists" and "criminals."
Denaria Thorn, who was at Saturday's church service, said she is still not a Trump supporter and had decided to come to the church "expecting an apology" for the patronizing remarks Trump has delivered during his campaign.
Trump said to those in the church, "Our nation is too divided."
Critics and analysts, however, have said in recent months Trump's campaign rhetoric has added to that division. Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke and other white nationalists have come out in support of Trump. The real estate developer has also been blasted for revelations that he has been sued for failing to rent apartments to black and Latino tenants, and has also been sued by black employees of his casinos.
Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan said in a statement "Mr. Trump ran a campaign through the nomination process of bigotry."
Public opinion surveys show his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, polling far ahead of Trump with minority voters.