A Republican strategist warned that the party had failed to engage with black voters on issues important to them, a problem compounded by President Donald Trump who "assaults every person of color almost on a daily basis."
Speaking to Reverend Al Sharpton on MSNBC's PoliticsNation, Shermichael Singleton—who worked on the presidential campaigns of Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney and Ben Carson—decried a Republican failure to reach black voters.
Sharpton asked Singleton: "What happened to the Republican outreach to blacks that we kept hearing about unless it's to reach out to slap us in the face? I haven't seen it."
"There is no outreach," Singleton said. "You're talking about the Growth and Opportunity Project after 2012 when Romney lost against [Barack] Obama. In 2013, the party said, under Reince Priebus, we're going to allocate $20 million to reaching black people."
"Well, how can you reach black people when you essentially ultimately nominated and elected a person who happens to be president who essentially assaults every person of color almost on a daily basis? I mean, I think it falls on deaf ears," Singleton argued.
Trump had been accused of xenophobia and racism before running for office, throughout his campaign and during his presidency.
He was the most prominent proponent of the birther conspiracy theory that claimed President Barack Obama had not born in the U.S., and called for—and later attempted to introduce—a temporary ban on citizens of Muslim-majority nations traveling to the U.S.
Trump is also reported to have complained that too many immigrants to the U.S. came from "shithole" countries like Haiti, El Salvador and African countries, and said the U.S. needed more immigrants from places like Norway.
The president has been criticized for his defence of white supremacists after deadly clashes in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017, receiving endorsement from far-right figures like former grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan David Duke, and his repeated attacks on the mostly black NFL players kneeling during the national anthem to protest police racism and brutality.
None of this has gone unnoticed. An August 2018 poll conducted by Quinnipiac University found that 54 percent of voters believed Trump had at least "emboldened people who hold racist beliefs to express those beliefs publicly." Seventy-eight percent of Democrats agreed with the statement, compared with just 25 percent of Republicans.
Overall, 49 percent of voters surveyed believed Trump is a racist, compared with 47 percent who did not.
According to the Pew Research Center, Trump and his Republican Party are struggling badly to attract support from black voters. Research published right after the midterm elections indicated that 90 percent of black people who voted said they had voted for Democratic candidates—the figure was 88 percent for black men and 92 percent for black women.
Speaking on MSNBC on Sunday, Singleton suggested that Republicans still lacked the drive to fully engage with black communities and issues.
"A lot of Republicans like black culture, they want to hang out with black people, they want to dress like black people, but they don't want to actually talk about the issues that actually impact black people," Singleton said. "And that's a problem."
Singleton has openly criticized Trump, despite Singleton's long history of working for the Republicans. In a Washington Post op-ed published in March 2017, Singleton said he was fired from his post as deputy chief of staff at the Department of Housing and Urban Development because of his public opposition to the president.
Singleton suggested he was sacked for writing another op-ed for in which he called on fellow conservatives to "stand up to Trump" for the sake of the American conservative movement.