Donald Trump
The presumptive GOP nominee said he would hold major events to reach the Latino vote, but despite promises, little steps have been taken. AFP

NEW YORK CITY - Throughout his campaign, presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump said he wanted to hold major campaign events at New York's Madison Square Garden aimed at flipping the Latino and Black vote. But as the election nears, have these efforts materialized? So far, not quite.

From personal legal troubles— including a historic hush money trial in New York—, to staffing issues, Trump's campaign has faced a rough patch in navigating the November election, according to The Associated Press.

For instance, his campaign removed its point person for coalitions and has not announced a replacement. Similarly, the Republican Party's minority outreach offices across the country have been shuttered and replaced by businesses that include a check-cashing store, an ice cream shop and a sex-toy store. Campaign officials also acknowledge they are not close to announcing new targeted programs, according to AP.

Nevertheless, Republicans believe the former president has a real opportunity at flipping President Biden's current advantages with voters of colors and minorities in general.

"To be quite honest, the Republican Party does not have a cohesive engagement plan for Black communities," said Darrell Scott, a Black pastor and longtime Trump ally who co-founded the National Diversity Coalition for Trump in 2016. "What it has are conservatives in communities of color who have taken it upon themselves to head our own initiatives."

But despite some loyal fanbase, the campaign team seems to be struggling to reach out to Latinos and Black voters in particular in states necessary to clinch victory in November.

In Michigan, a pivotal state that flipped from Trump to Biden four years ago, several party officials confirmed that the Republican National Committee, overhauled by Trump allies after he clinched the nomination in March, has yet to set up any community centers for minority outreach. Staffing has been a particular issue in these efforts, according to the Oakland County GOP chair, Vance Patrick.

"We've got all these carts but we have no horses yet," Patrick said. "So, it's all about making sure we have staffing when we open up these offices."

In Detroit, local Republican officials say they are trying to figure it out on their own.

"It's me setting up events or people just reaching out to me," said Rola Makki, the outreach vice chair for the Michigan GOP, noting she hasn't seen any minority outreach centers open in spite of claims to the contrary by Trump's national campaign team.

Members of Trump's team are rejecting claims they are not doing enough organizing or spending to reach minorities.

James Blair, the campaign's political director, said the campaign would not "broadcast" its spending or staffing levels, "but I assure you, it's enough to ensure President Trump's historic surge in support amongst Black and Hispanic voters sticks in November and beyond."

Lynne Patton, a senior adviser on the campaign overseeing coalitions work who has worked closely with the Trump family for decades, said Trump's team is laying the groundwork for a robust minority outreach program, although largely in private.

"We are speaking with Black leaders, we are speaking with small-business owners, we're speaking with famous athletes, hip-hop artists, some of whom I think you'd be surprised if you knew who was talking with us right now," Patton said in an interview. "These are people who are expressing openness to supporting President Trump both publicly and privately."

AP's report comes after several polls show mixed feelings among Latino and Black voters with both candidates.

According to polls by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, Biden's approval among Black adults has dropped from 94% when he started his term to 55% in March. Among Hispanic adults, it dropped from 70% to 32% in the same period.

Another poll by The Pew Research Center showed that more than half of voters said they would prefer both candidates to be replaced on the ballot ahead of the November elections.

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