PHILADELPHIA — Donald Trump was met with tears and gratitude as he sat with African-American supporters Friday, including the mother of a slain young woman who was killed by a man who entered the U.S. illegally.
The back-to-back meetings, held in a ballroom in Northwest Philadelphia, underscored the balancing act the Republican nominee is playing as he tries to expand his support in the race against Democrat Hillary Clinton. While Trump works to broaden his appeal among more moderate and minority voters, he's also working to maintain his popularity with his core GOP base by pressing his hard-line views on immigration.
At the invite-only roundtable discussion, Trump met with a dozen local business, civic and religious leaders who praised him for coming to "the hood" as part of his outreach efforts. Trump was warmly received by the group, including Daphne Goggins, a local Republican official, who wiped away tears as she introduced herself to Trump, saying she's been a Republican most her life, but, "for the first time in my life, I feel like my vote is going to count."
Renee Amoore, a local business leader, assured Trump that he has support in the black community, despite his low standing in public opinion surveys.
"People say, Mr. Trump, that you have no African-American support. We want you to know that you do," she said, adding, "We appreciate you and what you've done, coming to the hood, as people call it. That's a big deal."
Next stop for Trump is Detroit today, where blacks make up some 83 percent of the population. He's expected to visit a church with a predominantly black congregation while there.
In addition to planning trips to urban centers, Trump has re-vamped his campaign pitch to include a direct appeal to African-Americans and Hispanics, making the case that decades of Democratic policies have failed them.