Trump declares he’ll make history at rally aimed to ‘break the ice’ with black voters

PHILADELPHIA — Former President Donald Trump vowed to a Philadelphia crowd that he would win Pennsylvania in November, a feat that has only been accomplished by a Republican once since 1988 when Trump did so in 2016. Just days before his first debate against President Joe Biden in the rematch of the 2020 election, Trump […]

PHILADELPHIA — Former President Donald Trump vowed to a Philadelphia crowd that he would win Pennsylvania in November, a feat that has only been accomplished by a Republican once since 1988 when Trump did so in 2016.

Just days before his first debate against President Joe Biden in the rematch of the 2020 election, Trump addressed tens of thousands at Temple University’s Liacouras Center. Until Saturday, no Republican presidential candidate had campaigned in a predominantly black Philadelphia neighborhood in years.

“We are going to win this Commonwealth,” Trump said. “Pennsylvania [will] tell Crooked Joe Biden, ‘You’re fired.’”

Trump chose Philadelphia to ‘break the ice’ with minority voters

Team Trump black media director Janiyah Thomas shed light on why the 45th president chose to go into Philadelphia, a city whose residents voted for Biden at a greater than 5-to-1 clip in 2020, in a zip code that is 80.9% black.

“If you ask the average voter in these cities, they will say that Joe Biden and the Democrats have abandoned their communities and they are desperate for change,” Thomas told the Washington Examiner. “Team Trump’s outreach to minority communities is a stark contrast to Joe Biden’s failing campaign, whose only tactic is to gaslight Black voters.”

While not the majority demographic, there appeared to be more minorities, and black voters in particular, attending the rally. Several of them shared their thoughts with the Washington Examiner.

With former President Donald Trump hoping to court the minority vote at his Philadelphia rally, a group of supporters displays a banner reading “Chinese Americans fight for Trump.” (Peter Cordi/Washington Examiner)

One 28-year-old black voter named Kevin, who asked only to be identified by his first name and works in an HVAC warehouse, said black voters are “waking up … even at the barber shop” and among his coworkers. He thinks Trump’s visit to this part of Philadelphia will help “wake up” more black voters.

James Freeman, 40, who works for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, praised Trump for coming to “the hood” to “make a statement” with black voters. Freeman said he knows many other black voters who “are still in the closet” about their support for the former president.

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D’Anna Morgan said this November will mark the third time she is voting for Trump. She slammed Biden for his comments suggesting “you ain’t black” if you vote for Trump, as well as his eulogy for Klansman Robert C. Byrd and the 1994 crime bill, which disproportionately affected the black community.

Chris Vinsmoke, a 21-year-old black student from Philadelphia, said he was not interested in politics until Trump helped his cousin, rapper Kodak Black, get out of prison.

“I’m just so grateful for Trump,” he said.

Ed Moye, the Republican candidate for the 70th Pennsylvania House of Representatives District, said Republicans “should have done something like this a long time ago” but noted that Trump is the right man to “break the ice” in this neighborhood.

Saturday’s event is not the first time Trump has courted black voters this election cycle. On Wednesday, his campaign put out a statement commemorating Juneteenth and reflecting “on how far we have come as a nation” since the days of slavery and vowed to “advance the American dream for all people” under his leadership.

Last Saturday, Trump launched a group designed to appeal to black voters and spoke at a roundtable at a predominantly black church in Detroit to discuss the new coalition. The former president has also mentioned his legal troubles in attempts to relate to the historical persecution of black people through a two-tiered justice system.

Alison Dagnes, chairwoman of Shippensburg University’s Department of Political Science, told the Washington Examiner that Trump’s increased efforts with the black community have a lot to do with the fact that younger black male voters “are moving to support Trump, and he is responding accordingly.” In other words, the former president sees it as an opportunity to pounce on.

Trump’s efforts have paid off in the polls, as he has cut into Biden’s Pennsylvania lead with black voters since 2020. Last election, Biden took 92% of the black vote. According to a Marist poll from this month, Biden has 68% of support from black voters in the commonwealth, compared to 23% from Trump.

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Thousands of Trump supporters gather near Temple University’s Liacouras Center six hours before the former president is scheduled to speak. (Peter Cordi/Washington Examiner)

Trump supporters say ‘Let Biden speak’ at Thursday’s debate

With the first 2024 presidential debate between Trump and Biden set to take place Thursday, Trump rallygoers weighed in on how the former president should conduct himself onstage.

Most voters argued that Trump should just “let Biden speak,” as they said the president should do Trump’s work for him in the CNN showdown. Some others said the presumptive GOP nominee should “be Trump” and pull no punches during the debate.

An orthodox Jewish voter, who asked only to be identified as Akiva, said Trump needs to be “his unhinged self” at the debate because he does not want someone who will “bow down” to his adversaries. Morgan, who was with Akiva at the rally, said she wants to see Trump “drag Biden all over the floor.”

Slim Robinson, 32, from Bucks County, said Trump should just “sit on his record” and keep himself tight-lipped apart from that in order to best Biden on Thursday. Brian George, from Philadelphia, echoed a similar sentiment, saying Trump shouldn’t get “overly excited” and should instead focus on “speaking facts.”

Rallygoers pose outside the Liacouras Center at Temple University in Philadelphia. Tyson, left, and Mike, right, arrived at the rally over seven hours before Donald Trump was scheduled to speak. (Peter Cordi/Washington Examiner)

Rallygoers identify border and economy as main issues

The two main topics those in attendance for Trump’s rally identified in interviews with the Washington Examiner are border security and the economy. They pointed to how they felt Trump handled those issues in particular better than Biden.

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Freeman said he supports Trump because of Biden’s “open border [and] high inflation,” and because he hopes the former president will “lower our taxes even more.”

Joseph Kuna, 33, who works for event staff security, pointed to the border, gas prices, “keeping America first and not feeding the enemy … and protecting the unborn” as his main concerns going into the election.

Brian Rivers, who does fencing work, said the “borders need to be shut down” and that “we need businesses back in America.”

Akiva said the rampant campus antisemitism, which has sparked over 100 civil rights investigations across the country, is why “Trump has to win.” He agreed with the former president’s suggestion at his Wildwood, New Jersey, rally, that Biden should “give back the money” donated to his campaign by those who fund anti-Israel protests.

Owen McLain, 19, from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, is an undecided voter who attended the rally. However, he said Trump could earn his vote at the Saturday event. McLain said he is looking for “how are we going to lower our budget, cut federal spending, fix the border,” and implement “America-first” policies.

Michael Picard, 35, was dressed in an orange prison jumpsuit at the rally. He said he was attending as a voice for “felons for Trump.” Picard, who is a convicted felon, believes felons should be allowed to vote in the election and said the former president’s 34 felony convictions make him want to vote for him even more.

Protesters shouted down with ‘USA’ chants

As rallygoers filled the streets near the Liacouras Center, few protesters were spotted until closer to the event time. One protester walked back and forth next to the main admission line, agitating Trump supporters with a megaphone.

After things got especially heated, with the protester shouting obscenities and mocking remarks to the crowd and Trump supporters responding with “USA” chants, one supporter popped a balloon in the protester’s face before others crowded around to engage. Police were on the scene within minutes, and eventually, those who left the area were not allowed back in.

The Democratic National Committee also had a billboard truck driving around and parking near the event, playing a DNC-sponsored video criticizing Trump as being bad for the black community.

Ahead of the rally, DNC senior spokesman Marcus W. Robinson echoed the sentiment of the billboard truck in a statement, calling Trump “a disaster for black communities” and suggesting that the former president is a racist.

As the rally approached, several protesters wearing orange set up across the street from the Liacouras Center outside Klein Hall, wearing orange Biden-Harris shirts, holding signs, and chanting anti-Trump slogans.

Anti-Trump protesters gather across the street from the Liacouras Center at Temple University ahead of former President Donald Trump’s rally on Saturday, June 22, 2024, in Philadelphia. (Peter Cordi/Washington Examiner)

Republican congressmen help from afar

Rep. Glenn Thompson (R-PA) was in State College, Pennsylvania, for the opening of the Trump Force 47 headquarters in his home county on Saturday. Thompson’s chief of staff, Matt Brennan, told the Washington Examiner that Pennsylvania is seeing an “incredible ground operation come together,” and that the House Republican will “continue to do his part to help deliver the 15th Congressional District and Pennsylvania for President Trump, our Senate nominee Dave McCormick, and the unified Republican ticket this November.”


Rep. Mike Kelly (R-PA) attended a parade Saturday in Pennsylvania, but his campaign manager, Melanie Brewer, told the Washington Examiner that he is involved in expediting entry requests for Trump when he’s in western Pennsylvania and that he has financially contributed to the former president’s 2024 campaign.

Brewer said “every American is feeling” the effects of Biden’s economy “in their pocketbook,” and that people ought to ask themselves if they were better off today than they were four years ago under Trump. She also said the conflicts in Gaza and Ukraine would likely not exist to the same extent if Trump had been reelected in 2020.

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