Published August 22, 2016
Donald Trump met Saturday with his newly formed Hispanic advisory board, part of a new effort by the Republican presidential nominee and his new-look campaign team to win at least some support from minority voters as the White House race enters its final stages.
Trump met in New York with the National Hispanic Advisory Council for Trump -- a coalition of elected officials, business leaders and faith leaders -- with hopes of improving relations with Latino voters.
Helen Aguirre Ferre, director of Hispanic communications for the Republican National Committee, called the meeting a "game-changing" opportunity.
RNC Chairman Reince Priebus said the meeting would be an exchange in which the leaders would “share their insights and experience,” then return to their communities to “relay Mr. Trump's message of ending the failed status quo to their congregations and media audience.”
Priebus also said the meeting was “just one component of our expansive effort to engage the Hispanic community.”
Still, winning over Hispanic voters will not be easy. Trump infamously accused Mexico of sending rapists and criminals across the southern U.S. border at his campaign kickoff event last year. The real estate mogul also vowed to deport all of the estimated 11 million people living in the country illegally.
Washington Republicans have been trying to improve their standing among Hispanic voters since the 2012 election, when exit polls showed President Obama won re-election with roughly 70 percent of the Hispanic vote, compared to about 27 percent for Republican challenger Mitt Romney.
And most polls show Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton with a double-digit lead over Trump among Hispanic voters, with early voting in some states set to begin in less than two weeks.
Earlier this week, the Trump campaign announced that Stephen Bannon, executive chairman of Breitbart News, was its new chief executive and that GOP pollster Kellyanne Conway had been promoted to campaign manager. On Friday, campaign Chairman Paul Manafort resigned.
Trump has also made efforts to try to appeal more to black voters, whom he argues should support his campaign after years of reliably supporting Democrats.
At a rally in suburban Michigan on Friday night, Trump said to the crowd that “no group in America has been more harmed by Hillary Clinton's policies than African Americans.”
"Look at how much African-American communities are suffering from Democratic control,” Trump continued in a speech similar to one he gave the day before in North Carolina. “What do you have to lose by trying something new like Trump? … You live in your poverty. Your schools are no good. You have no jobs -- 58 percent of your youth is unemployed."
His efforts are similar to those of other Republicans who have publically argued that Democrats have for decades run major U.S. cities like Baltimore, Chicago, Detroit and Philadelphia but have failed their residents, many of them minorities, with poorly-run or under-performing services and facilities.
Democrats were quick to denounce Trump’s comments in Michigan, with Democratic National Committee official Brandon Davis on Saturday saying Trump “has shown little interest engaging the black community and his comments underscore just how out of touch he is with the African American community.”
On Saturday, Trump told supporters in Fredericksburg, Va. that Republicans "must do better, and will do better" at appealing to African-American voters.
Noting that the "GOP is the party of Abraham Lincoln," Trump said, "I want our party to be a home of the African-American voter once again."
However, Democratic politicians have had the black vote for decades, and this year’s election appears to be no different.
Clinton overwhelmingly won the black vote in South Carolina early in the Democratic primary season and continued to win it in other Southern states to secure the nomination, despite challenger Sen. Bernie Sanders’ strong populist promise to cut the social and economic inequality gap in the United States.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.