DETROIT – With Democrats increasingly nervous about African-American turnout, Hillary Clinton came to majority-black Detroit on Friday to shore up support in a state her campaign is counting on come Tuesday.
“I’m so happy to be back in Michigan,” Clinton said to cheers from some 4,000 supporters who had crammed into the Shed 3 downtown market.
Clinton’s top aides, meanwhile, sought to downplay the significance of her visit just four days before ballots will start being counted. Their job at this point, they argued, was to lock down states they need to win, even as they have the chance to poach traditionally Republican states like Arizona and Georgia.
“Michigan is a state we feel we’ve got a lead on. We want to make sure we hold that lead,” campaign chairman John Podesta told reporters on the short flight from another critical state, Pennsylvania.
As for polling and early vote statistics suggesting that African-Americans are not supporting Clinton as enthusiastically as they’d supported President Barack Obama in the two previous presidential elections, Podesta said that wasn’t a useful comparison. Obama was the first black president, he said.
“We’re not measuring ourselves to what happened in 2012; we’re measuring ourselves against what it takes to get the electoral votes to win,” Podesta said.
Michigan is a state we feel we’ve got a lead on. We want to make sure we hold that lead. John Podesta, campaign chairman for Hillary Clinton
For her part, Clinton told her audience that her opponent Donald Trump doesn’t know what he’s talking about when he paints all “inner-city” neighborhoods as places where it’s impossible for residents to walk around without getting shot.
“He thinks the lives of black people are all about crime and poverty and despair,” she said. “He has no idea of the strength of the black churches and the vibrancy of black businesses.”
She also reminded the crowd of how one of Trump’s duties in his first job was to prevent black people from renting his father’s apartments, and of how he aggressively pushed prosecution for the “Central Park Five,” a group of young people of color who were wrongfully convicted of rape in 1989 and spent years in prison before they were cleared with DNA evidence. “Trump actually said he believes they should still be in prison,” she said, referring the GOP nominee’s comments in a recent interview with CNN.