MELBOURNE, Fla. — Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump this week intensified his effort to build the broader base of voters he will need to win the presidency in November.
Trump told thousands of his GOP and conservative supporters at a Florida rally Tuesday to not say his group of followers is Republican because he wants the group to include Muslims, Democrats, liberals, gays, Cubans, African-Americans and others to beat Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
“Don’t call us anything,” he said, seeming to give the raucous crowd pause as he welcomed the new groups of voters. “Just call us ‘us.’ It means common sense ... it means law and order and protecting our police.”
The polls show his effort to broaden his appeal in the tight race remains a difficult task. He has at different times called for Muslim immigration to be suspended, called for millions of immigrants who entered the country illegally, including Mexicans working in the United States for years, to be deported, called for a wall along the Mexican border, and drew the ire of African-American leaders for his full support of police in the face of lethal confrontations with African-American men.
In Melbourne, he said he was outraged that a terrorist had committed the most lethal attack ever on “the LGBTQ community” in the June massacre at an Orlando nightclub frequented by gays.
He asked who in the crowd was Cuban and received a few cheers. Then he said he visited a Cuban immigrant community Tuesday morning and would fight for their oppressed relatives and friends back in Cuba. He blamed President Barack Obama and Clinton, the former secretary of state, for renewing economic relations with Cuba without requiring the communist country to improve its civil rights record.
“My administration will be a force against oppression in this hemisphere,” Trump said.
Trump also renewed his pitch to get disaffected Democrats and liberals who flocked to Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont during his losing bid for the Democratic nomination. Trump told his supporters to note Tuesday’s rally had no protesters, who had to be forcibly removed from many of his past rallies.
“That’s because the Bernie protesters had spirit. The Hillary protesters have no spirit,” Trump said Tuesday.