Trump campaign plans information centers for black voters in battleground states

WASHINGTON, Feb 26 (Reuters) - President Donald Trump's campaign said on Wednesday it plans to open information centers for black voters in 15 cities in battleground states in hopes of increasing support for the Republican president's re-election bid among a key Democratic constituency.

Trump has a steep hill to climb winning over black voters. According to a Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll from Feb. 19-25, 15% of African Americans said they approved of Trump’s performance in office, while 79% disapproved and 6% were not sure.

In the 2016 election, only 8% of African Americans voted for Trump versus 89% for Democrat Hillary Clinton, according to a Reuters/Ipsos Election Day poll.

But Trump senior advisers believe he can increase his support in the black community ahead of the Nov. 3 election because of the president's record on economic growth, prison reform legislation and his support for historically black colleges.

Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale told reporters that in terms of polling and support in the black community: “At minimum, we’re double from where we were in 2016.”

The Trump campaign selected the sites for the information centers with battleground states in mind. They will be located in Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Wisconsin, all states that will be critical in whether Trump wins a second term.

"This is just an opportunity to be in those communities," said a senior campaign adviser. "The next stage is to go there and to campaign, and the president is going to campaign aggressively for all votes.”

The campaign did not give a cost for the centers, which will offer campaign literature and some merchandise.

There are Democratic efforts planned to thwart increasing attraction by young black men, in particular, to Trump, even though a majority of those voters still view the president unfavorably.

Whether Trump will be able to get a sizable increase among African-American voters is far from clear. Many were outraged at his response to a deadly white nationalist protest in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017.

Trump drew strong criticism in the days after the Charlottesville rally for equating white supremacists with counter-protesters and saying that “both sides” were to blame.

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A sign for U.S. Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump is seen along the road near Sandusky, Ohio U.S., October 27, 2016. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton 
A barn is seen in Akron, Ohio U.S., October 30, 2016. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton 
A member of Olivet Institutional Baptist Church claps during Sunday morning services in Cleveland, Ohio U.S., October 30, 2016. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton
People walk by a building distributing tickets for performer Jay Z's November 4 'Get Out the Vote' concert in support of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, in Cleveland, Ohio U.S., October 29, 2016. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton 
An empty farmhouse is seen near Stowe, Ohio U.S., October 29, 2016. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton 
A girl sits as services at Olivet Institutional Baptist Church are televised during Sunday morning services in Cleveland, Ohio U.S., October 30, 2016. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton
Pete Owens stands next to a lawn mower in East Liverpool, Ohio U.S., October 29, 2016. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton 
Members of Olivet Institutional Baptist Church clap during Sunday morning services in Cleveland, Ohio U.S., October 30, 2016. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton 
Jerry Fisher, 23, poses outside a Vape shop in East Liverpool, Ohio U.S., October 29, 2016. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton 
The DavisÃBesse Nuclear Power Station, a nuclear power plant in Ottawa County, is seen in Oak Harbor, Ohio U.S., October 27, 2016. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton 
Stevedore Crawford Jr. lies on the ground during a Black Lives Matter rally in Columbus, Ohio U.S., October 28, 2016. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton 
A sign is seen outside a store in Mansfield, Ohio U.S., October 28, 2016. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton 
A billboard with NBA basketball player for the Cleveland Cavaliers Lebron James is seen in Cleveland, Ohio U.S., October 30, 2016. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton
People participate in Halloween trick or treating in East Liverpool, Ohio U.S., October 29, 2016. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton 
An empty building is seen in East Liverpool, Ohio U.S., October 29, 2016. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton 
A chain linked fence is seen outside an abandoned building in Cleveland, Ohio U.S., October 30, 2016. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton 
A sign is seen in an empty building in East Liverpool, Ohio U.S., October 29, 2016. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton 
A woman sits outside her home in East Liverpool, Ohio U.S., October 29, 2016. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton 
Voters cast ballots during early voting at the Franklin County Board of Elections in Columbus, Ohio U.S., October 28, 2016. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton 
A man that went by the name "Pocket", a member of the Patriots Guard Riders (PGR), poses outside a rally for U.S. Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump in Toledo, Ohio U.S., October 27, 2016. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton 
A fan of the Major League Baseball team Cleveland Indians watches their World Series game against the Chicago Cubs during a watch party inside Progressive Field in Cleveland, Ohio U.S., October 30, 2016. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton 
A man stands inside a rally for U.S. Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump in Toledo, Ohio U.S., October 27, 2016. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton 
Guns are seen on display inside the Ohio Gun, Knife & Military Show at the Summit County Fairgrounds in Tallmadge, Ohio U.S., October 30, 2016. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton 
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The Feb. 19-25 poll found black voters to be heavily supportive of Democratic candidates in the presidential contest. If Senator Bernie Sanders becomes the nominee, 79% of black registered voters said they would vote for him versus 7% for Trump.

If Joe Biden is nominated, 78% of black registered voters would vote for the former vice president and 7% for Trump, while 69% would vote for former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg versus 7% for Trump.

 

(Reporting by Steve Holland; Additional reporting by Chris Kahn and Trevor Hunnicutt; Editing by Peter Cooney)

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