President Donald Trump arrives to speak at the launch of "Black Voices for Trump," at the Georgia World Congress Center, Friday, Nov. 8, 2019, in Atlanta.
Photo: AP Photo/ Evan Vucci
Photo: AP Photo/ Evan Vucci

LIVE UPDATES: Trump leaves Atlanta after launching black voter initiative

He asks African-American voters: ‘What the hell do you have to lose?’

President Donald Trump has departed Atlanta after a busy day that included a high-dollar fundraiser in Buckhead and a speech downtown to launch a new campaign initiative to court black Republican voters. 

Photos: Donald Trump visits Georgia

More: What to know about Trump’s Friday visit

More: Here’s what ‘Black Voices for Trump’ supporters are saying about Trump’s Atlanta visit

Also: Trump launches black voter initiative with message of economic growth

Follow below for live updates of the day’s events:

4:55 p.m. Trump has departed Dobbins Air Force Reserve Base.


4:10 p.m. Trump is wrapping up his speech and is about to hit the road. 

4:05 p.m. The president asks the approving crowd to imagine if Democrats shifted their focus away from impeachment and toward helping the black community. 

“For over three straight years, they’ve been obsessed with one delusional goal - overturning the results of the 2016 election. And really, if you think about it, overturning American democracy,” he said, calling accusations that he helped Russia interfere with the election “delusional.” 

“Now Democrats in the media – and they are partners – have launched a deranged hyperpartisan impeachment witch hunt. It’s a sinister effort to nullify the ballots of 63 million Americans,” he said. “It’s a craven pursuit of power and money.” 

He accused Democrats of wanting to “redistribute your wealth” to “places you’ve never heard of.” And he said Democrats fought harder for people in the country illegally than African-American citizens. 

“Under Democratic politicians, African-Americans have become forgotten - literally forgotten - Americans. Under my administration, they’ve become forgotten no longer.”

3:50 p.m. Trump’s back at the mic, and this line was a crowd-pleaser: “Democrats want to invest in green global projects. I want to invest in black American communities.”

3:45 p.m. The president calls Kelvin King, an Atlanta contractor and Trump supporter, to the stage. 

The Air Force veteran credits Trump’s economic agenda for helping his business thrive. 

“Our future success depends on our success in ignoring the distractions we see on a daily basis,” he said. “Don’t sit on the sidelines because of emotions or feelings.”

He thanks Trump “for being brave, for making the black community a priority and for fighting for all Americans.” 

3:40 p.m. More applause for Trump when he claims: “We’ve done more for African-Americans in three years than the broken Washington establishment has done in 30 years.” 

3:35 p.m. To a wave of cheers, Trump reminds the crowd of his appeal to black voters three years ago: “What the hell do you have to lose?”

“For decades, Democrats have taken African-American voters totally for granted,” he said. “Democrats have run America’s inner cities at every level for 50, 60, 70 years. Really, I think, for 100 years.” 

He said the “betrayal of the black community is unbelievable” by Democratic politicians. 

“America is waking up to the Democrat Party’s record of neglect ... I deal with them all the time. I deal with crooked politicians, this guy Adam Schiff. Nancy Pelosi should go back home to San Francisco and clean up its problems.”

3:30 p.m. Trump spotlights some of the leaders of the “Voices for Trump” coalition including Harrison Floyd, a military veteran who recently dropped out of the race for Georgia’s 7th District. 

He also showered praise on several Georgia Republicans, including Gov. Brian Kemp and U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, who is a potential U.S. Senate nominee. 

“He’s doing a great job. Thank you. Thank you. See, they like you, Doug.”

3:22 p.m. The president takes the stage to a burst of applause, as the crowd chants “Blacks for Trump.”

“The support we’re getting from the African-American community is overwhelming,” he said. “This is turning out to be a movement.” 

Trump opens by recounting his 2016 victory, which he said “took America back.”

“We’ve never done better than we’re doing now. The Republican Party was the original home of African Americans, and now African Americans are returning.” 

3:20 p.m. Housing Secretary Ben Carson, the only African American member of Trump’s Cabinet, drew a standing ovation when he took the podium.

“Let me tell you - if Trump is a racist, he’s an awfully bad one,” he said to applause. 

3:15 p.m: The crowd is dotted with local black conservatives. Among the attendees is Herman Cain, the former presidential hopeful; Alveda King, a niece of Martin Luther King Jr.; and Melvin Everson, a former state legislator. 

Wearing an oversized Trump “Make America Great,” Bryson Gray talked of how he drove down from Greensboro, N.C. to attend Trump’s event. 

“I support Trump 2020 and any way I can help him, I will. We have one of the best economies we’ve ever had,” he said.

Gray said he once was a “Bernie bro” and was influenced by friends who said Trump was racist. 

“I kept during research and I figured that what Trump said made sense,” he added.


 

3 p.m.: Chants of “four more years” break out when Vice President Mike Pence says “African-Americans and all Americans need four more years of President Trump.”

He urged the crowd to appeal to their friends and neighbors to “tell the American people how we’re more secure today” because of Trump.

“And I couldn’t be more proud to be a part of an administration, and stand with a president, who has renewed our party’s proud commitment to equality and opportunity for all,” he said. 

Pence invoked Rep. John Lewis’ march across the Selma bridge, recounting how he once asked whether the Atlanta congressman – and outspoken Trump critic - ever thought about turning back. He was told, flatly, no. 

“They helped change America for the better,” he said. 

2:45 p.m.: A few hundred protesters have gathered at the Georgia World Congress Center. 

A few hundred protesters gathered at the Georgia World Congress Center as President Donald Trump was set to arrive for a campaign event on Nov. 8, 2019 in Atlanta.

2:05 p.m.: The event has begun. 


 

2 p.m.: The Georgia World Congress Center was dotted with police officers in what looked to be a heavier than normal presence, as people trickled in to the rally. 

They were young and old, black and white, including a couple holding hands, the woman carrying a small a U.S. flag. There were several red Make America Great Again ball caps, one atop a white man in a suit, another on the head of a black man in a suit. 

Police set up a small cordon near the rally entrance, and only ticket holders were allowed in.

1:30 p.m.: President Donald Trump is set to raise roughly $3.5 million in Atlanta for Georgia Trump Victory at his events at the Whitley, a joint fundraising committee benefiting the RNC, Trump campaign and U.S. Sen. David Perdue’s campaign. About 325 donors are expected at the event.

1 p.m.: A few dozen Trump supporters and protesters lined the streets outside the Whitley hotel in Buckhead, where the president will headline a fundraiser. 

One group unfurled a bright blue Trump banner for the passing motorcade. Protesters included a woman waving a sign that read: “I’m the whistleblower” and a group of demonstrators on Peachtree St. that chanted “lock him up.”


 

12:50 p.m.: The crowd is arriving at the Georgia World Congress Center.  


 
November 8, 2019 Marietta: President Donald Trump arrives at Dobbins AFB on Friday, November 8, 2019, in Marietta. Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com
Photo: ccompton@ajc.com/Curtis Compton

12:30 p.m.: President Donald Trump chatted briefly with Gov. Brian Kemp, his wife Marty and their three daughters as he stepped off the plane. Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan, Attorney General Chris Carr and House Speaker David Ralston joined them on the receiving line. 

Some of Trump’s top Georgia allies in Washington followed him off the flight: U.S. Sen. David Perdue and his cousin, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, along with U.S. Rep. Doug Collins.  

Collins remains one of the best-known contenders to replace U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, but unless there’s a drastic change of plans, we don’t expect Kemp to announce his appointment to coincide with Trump’s visit. 

Yet that might not stop the president from dropping a hint about who he favors at his events today.

12:10 p.m.: Trump has landed in metro Atlanta. 


 

11:55 a.m.: Before departing the White House, Trump answered questions including one about his trip to Georgia and said,  “We're doing very well with African Americans. I think a big factor is the fact they are having the best economic year they have ever had in the history of our country.”

10:25 a.m.: An interestingly timed video from civil rights icon and U.S. Rep. John Lewis, D-Atlanta, posted on Twitter this morning.


 

9:15 a.m.: Georgia Democrats kicked off the morning with a news conference blasting President Trump’s latest play for black voters and insisting that their party is best positioned to meet the needs of communities of color.

State Sen. Nikema Williams, the Atlanta-based chairwoman of the Democratic Party of Georgia, said Trump was bringing his “backwards agenda to Georgia to pretend like his actions haven’t been a disaster for the black community and marginalized communities across this entire country.”

“In Georgia, we know better on issues from healthcare, to criminal justice, to education to basic respect, Donald Trump has failed to be a president for all Americans, especially Americans from marginalized background,” Williams said. “Donald Trump's administration has made an all out assault on people of color.”

Other Democratic legislators of color joined her at the morning news conference held on the steps of the state Capitol, including State Sens. Harold Jones and Sheikh Rahman and State Reps. Derrick Jackson, Donna McLeod and Shelly Hutchinson.

Rev. Timothy McDonald, a civil rights leader and pastor of the First Iconium Baptist Church in Atlanta, closed the presser with a scathing rebuke of Trump’s latest effort to woo black voters, an initiative the president will launch in Atlanta later today.

“To launch a program that he thinks is going to cause black people to vote for him is outrageous, it is insane and it is a slap in the face of all Americans of goodwill,” McDonald said. “This man's rhetoric and his agenda have taken our country backwards, not forward, to a time when there was much pain that existed.”

8:30 a.m.: The president’s critics plan to make his one-day trip to Atlanta as uncomfortable as possible, starting with a morning press conference at the state Capitol led by prominent African-American Democrats.

State Sen. Nikema Williams, the chairwoman of the Democratic Party of Georgia, and other top officials plan to highlight how Trump’s agenda “hurts Georgia’s black community.”

In 2016, a paltry 8% of black voters nationwide cast their ballots for Trump. And a recent poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research showed that only 4% of African Americans think Trump’s actions and policies have benefited black people.

The AJC’s Ernie Suggs explored Trump’s struggles with black voters – and his attempt to woo influential African-American supporters – in a story you can find here

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