As an old proverb on foreign policy goes, "Only Nixon could go to China." But after his meeting with an African-American evangelical congregation on Saturday, someday, they might make a similar statement about race relations:
"Only Trump could go to Detroit."
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump absolutely stunned the political world with a speech that went directly to the heart of his efforts to reach out to African-American voters. And afterward, a number of African-American faith leaders said they were swayed by his comments.
"For centuries, the African-American church has been the conscience of our country," he said. "It's from the pews and pulpits and Christian teachings of black churches all across this land that the civil rights movement lifted up its soul and lifted up the soul of our nation. It's from these pews that our nation has been inspired toward a better moral character, a deeper concern for mankind, and spirit of charity and unity that binds us all together.
"And we're bound together, and I see that today. This has been an amazing day for me.
"The African-American faith community has been one of God's greatest gifts to America and to its people. There is perhaps no action our leaders can take that would do more to heal our country and support our people than to provide a greater platform to the black churches and church-goers.
"You do right every day by your community and your families. You raise children in the light of God; I will always support your church, always. And defend your right to worship ...
"I am here today to listen to your message and I hope that my presence here will also help your voice to reach new audiences in our country and many of these audiences desperately need your spirit and your thought. I can tell you that.
"Christian faith is not the past but the present and the future. Make it stronger. And we'll open it up to great, great leaders."
Trump repeated his earlier talking points on the economy, job creation, taxes, education and immigration. He also discussed community policing and national security. But he quickly came back to his message for African-American voters.
"Our nation is too divided," he said. "We talk past each other, not to each other and those who seek office do not do enough to step into the community and learn what is going on. They don't know. They have no clue.
"I'm here today to learn. So that we can together remedy injustice, in any form. And so that we can also remedy economics so that the African-American community can benefit economically through jobs and income and so many other different ways.
"Our political system has failed the people and works only to enrich itself. I want to reform that system so that it works for you, everyone in this room. I believe true reform can only come from outside the system.
"Being a businessman is much different than being a politician because I understand what is happening. And we are going outside the establishment.
"Becoming the nominee of the party of Abraham Lincoln—a lot of people don't realize that Abraham Lincoln, the great Abraham Lincoln was a Republican—has been the greatest honor of my life. It is on his legacy that I hope to build the future of the party but more important the future of the country and the community."
He continued that "nothing is more sad" than when young African-Americans with "tremendous potential" are sidelined. He noted he had met with a group of young African-American men earlier in the day and was touched by their desire to find jobs.
"Our whole country loses out when we're unable to harness the brilliance and the energy of these folks," he said. "We're one nation and when anyone hurts, we all hurt together. That is so true. So true. We're all brothers and sisters and we're all created by the same God. We must love each other and support each other and we are in this all together. All together.
"I fully understand that the African-American community has suffered from discrimination and that there are many wrongs that must still be made right and they will be right. I want America prosperous for everyone. I want to make this city the economic envy of the world and we can do that. We can do that again."
But it was Trump's closing statements that really impressed those who heard him speak. It was a side of Donald Trump very few have seen on the campaign trail, but those who were on hand said it was a very "genuine moment" for the GOP presidential nominee.
"Now, in these hard times for our country, let us turn again to our Christian heritage to lift up the soul of our nation," he said. "I am so deeply grateful to be here today and it is my prayer that the America of tomorrow—and I mean that—that the America of tomorrow will be one of unity, togetherness and peace.
"And perhaps we can add the word prosperity. OK? Prosperity.
"I'd like to conclude with a passage from 1 John, Chapter 4. You know it? See, most groups I speak to don't know that. But we know it. If you want, we can say it together: 'No one has ever seen God, but if we love one another, God lives in us and His love is made complete in us.'"
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