Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump with supporters after speaking at the Mississippi Coast Coliseum on Jan. 2, 2016, in Biloxi, Miss.
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Donald Trump’s rhetoric attracts an army of angry white people to his campaign rallies, but at the same time, he has tried to court the black vote. Can his policy positions balance the interests of the two groups? In The Root’s new series, Meet the Candidates, we take a closer look at where leading presidential candidates stand on issues that affect our community. Previously we examined Democratic contender Sen. Bernie Sanders; now here’s a look at the Republican front-runner.

Health Care

Like other Republican candidates, Trump wants to repeal ­­­­President Barack Obama’s signature health care reform law, the Affordable Care Act, which a majority of African Americans continue to support. But Trump has struggled to explain his own plan.


In a wide-ranging 60 Minutes interview, Trump was pressed to articulate a viable alternative to the act. His responses were vague, which a Huffington Post health care reporter described as “gibberish.”

Raising Incomes

Trump’s supporters expect the businessman to make America’s economy great again—which he promises to accomplish if elected.

It should come as no surprise that his economic plan does not include increasing the minimum wage. At the fourth GOP presidential debate, the billionaire said that wages are already too high. Following a wave of criticism, Trump said that his statement was misunderstood. What he meant to say is that the minimum wage should not be increased.

The real estate tycoon promises to “create jobs so that you don’t have to worry about the minimum wage.” He added that a low minimum wage “is not a bad thing for this country.”


His tax-reform plan is a centerpiece of his economic strategy. The goals of that strategy include passing tax cuts for the middle class and stimulating economic growth. But not everyone is convinced that Trump’s plan would work. A widely reported analysis by the Tax Policy Center (pdf) found that the wealthy would benefit the most from Trump’s proposed tax cuts, which could also increase the national debt.

College Affordability

Student-loan debt, a $1 trillion crisis, undermines the national economy and the efforts of individuals clawing their way into the middle class. Trump told voters at an Iowa town hall meeting that starting new “governmental programs” can make college more affordable, according to the Washington Examiner.


When asked for specifics, Trump said that those programs would involve refinancing and extensions. “We’re going to do something very big with loans because you have to get these people going,” he said. “They really feel down and out.”

Gun Control

Trump sees no need to pass more legislation to restrict gun purchases. “We need to get serious about prosecuting violent criminals,” his website states. Trump wants to get tough on drug dealers and gang members who are “given a slap on the wrist and turned loose on the street.”


After the terrorist shootings in Paris, the top GOP candidate blamed France’s strict gun control laws for the high death toll. “You can say what you want, but if they had guns—if our people had guns, if they were allowed to carry—it would have been a much, much different situation,” he said at a rally in Texas.

Criminal-Justice Reform

Glimpses into Trump’s thinking about the criminal-justice system have set off alarm bells. He infamously retweeted wildly inaccurate statistics—from a fake organization—that said blacks are responsible for the vast majority of white murder victims.


Black Lives Matter

He has also been one of the most vociferous critics of the Black Lives Matter movement. He believes that the group “is looking for trouble.” And he backed his white supporters at an Alabama rally who beat up a Black Lives Matter protester at the event.


Black people are as familiar with Trump as they are with Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. But when it comes to likability, blacks have a resoundingly negative view of him, according to a Gallup Poll. The researchers predict: “Hands down, Donald Trump is the candidate who will struggle most among blacks.”  

Another poll found that 92 percent of black people doubt that Trump cares about the needs of African Americans.


A New York Times article points out that Trump has had long-standing, friendly relationships with black celebrities. But his harsh comments about banning Muslims and Mexican immigrants have put a strain on some of those relationships.

A group of black ministers who Trump said planned to endorse him urged the outspoken candidate to tone down his racial rhetoric. Many of the invited ministers said they were unaware of an endorsement announcement and refused to back his candidacy.


Despite all that, Trump remains supremely confident that he’ll win the black vote.

Previously in the Meet the Candidates series: Should You ‘Feel the Bern’? Where Bernie Sanders Stands on the Issues


Up next in Meet the Candidates: A look at where Democratic contender Hillary Clinton stands on the issues.

Nigel Roberts is a New York City-based freelance writer. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook.

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