Republicans

Former 'Black Men for Bernie' leader now backing Trump

'Trump for Urban Communities' leader Bruce Carter speaks to activists at a meeting.

'Trump for Urban Communities' leader Bruce Carter speaks to activists at a meeting.  (FoxNews.com)

While many analysts dismiss Donald Trump’s chances of winning over black voters, the Republican nominee has an unlikely ally making his case -- the founder of a group that once rallied black voters for Bernie Sanders. 

Bruce Carter, who led "Black Men for Bernie," told FoxNews.com he had a change of heart after he traveled to urban communities and saw the levels of poverty in Democrat-controlled areas of the country. 

“Once I got involved, I realized that the Democratic Party was operating as if they own the country, and that was a major turn off for me,” Carter said. “I didn’t want to represent a party that saw its people in that way.”

Carter, from Texas, has since formed “Trump for Urban Communities” – a grassroots organization  he says is reaching out to black voters in big cities from Jacksonville, Fla., to Philadelphia, to Charlotte, N.C., seeking to convince first-time voters, working families and others to vote Republican in November.

“Donald Trump is the best presidential candidate, who I believe has the experience and the wherewithal to give urban communities economic and educational opportunities,” he said.

The task is a steep climb for Republicans. President Obama won 90 percent of the black vote in 2008 and 2012, and Hillary Clinton likewise is expected to sweep among the same group. Expectations among some analysts that black voters might abandon her in the primaries in favor of Sanders did not materialize -- her so-called "firewall" held. 

Trump nevertheless has tried to make inroads, promising jobs, attacking Hillary Clinton for once referring to some young black criminals as “superpredators” and asking voters: “What do you have to lose?”

Even this outreach has been peppered with controversy. In the first presidential debate, he took heat for saying African-Americans and Hispanics are “living in hell.” Meanwhile, critics say his call for the return of controversial stop-and-frisk policies are also hurting his outreach to black voters who believe such policies disproportionately target them. 

President Obama on Friday also mocked Trump's overall attempt to cast himself as a "populist." Noting Trump's billionaire status, Obama repeatedly said at a rally in Cleveland, "Come on, man." 

Carter said while Trump's law-and-order rhetoric doesn't exactly help Trump in that area, he suggested the backlash may be exaggerated. Further, he said the Clintons are not as popular as they're made out to be. 

However, Carter said Republicans need to do better, get on the ground and talk to people in those communities – something he says the Trump campaign, and Republicans in general, have been woeful at doing, and something he says "Trump for Urban Communities" is doing right now.

"I talk about poverty, unemployment rates and then I show them who they’ve been voting for, and I give them history," he said. 

He says much of it depends on Republican willingness to engage directly in those communtiies.

“To use Donald Trump’s language -- What do the Republicans have to lose by investing in urban communities?”

Adam Shaw is a Politics Reporter and occasional Opinion writer for FoxNews.com. He can be reached here or on Twitter: @AdamShawNY.