Black supporters of Clinton reject Trump's outreach to minority voters

Credit: Phil Masturzo

Credit: Phil Masturzo

A bigot. Deceptive. Opportunistic.

These were just some of the harsh descriptions doled out by surrogates of Hillary Clinton on Tuesday as they condemned Donald Trump's overt pleas in recent days for the support of blacks and Latinos.

The Republican presidential nominee's campaign has been marked by divisive and racially coded rhetoric, yet in recent days he has softened his message and insisted that he's best fit to improve schools, create jobs and foster safer communities for blacks.

Not so fast, says Rep. Gregory Meeks, D-N.Y.

"He's willing to say whatever to reach the highest office in the land," Meeks said on a call with reporters. "Trump has repeatedly proven himself to be a bigot."

Meeks, a member of the Congressional Black Caucus whose district spans much of Queens, noted a housing discrimination lawsuit the Department of Justice filed against Trump in the 1970s, and the full-page newspaper ads Trump bought in the 1980s that called for the death penalty for five black and Latino teens wrongfully convicted of raping a woman in Central Park.

"Donald Trump has shown the African American community he has no concern for our well-being," Meeks said.

Trump, though, has said it is Democrats who have hurt black communities. During rallies last week in Michigan, North Carolina and Virginia, Trump, speaking before primarily white audiences, called on blacks to join his campaign.

"You're living in poverty, your schools are no good. ... What the hell do you have to lose?" Trump said in his pitch for support from blacks.

On Monday, Trump blamed Democrats for "poverty, failing schools and broken homes" in inner cities that are predominantly black.

"Our government has totally failed our African American friends ... and the people of our country, period," he said.

In a recent NBC News/Survey Monkey tracking poll, Trump netted just 8 percent support among blacks, compared with 87 percent for Clinton. Similar numbers are reflected in other national and swing state polls.

Rep. Yvette Clarke, D-N.Y., another Clinton surrogate, said she was offended by Trump's pitch to blacks.

"We reject his overtures. It's too little, too late," Clarke said.