Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, badly trailing Democratic contender Hillary Clinton among minority voters, is making a new pitch to court support among African-Americans and Hispanics.
Trump, a real estate mogul making his first run at elected office, told a largely white crowd of supporters in the mid-Atlantic state of Virginia on Saturday that he recognizes that "outreach to the African-American community is an area where the Republican party must do better, and will do better."
He noted the party's history, with the first Republican president, Abraham Lincoln, freeing slaves in the mid-1800s. "I want our party to be a home of the African-American voter once again," Trump said.
Earlier, Trump met in New York with a group of Hispanics advising his campaign. He told them, according to several people who attended the gathering, that he wants to develop a "humane and efficient" way to deal with the 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States, the majority of them Hispanics from Mexico and Central America.
Trump has accused Mexico of sending rapists and criminals across the southern U.S. border and surged to the Republican nomination with a call to build a wall between the two countries and deport those living in the U.S. illegally.
His efforts in recent days to court black voters before mostly white political rallies have come after he declined invitations in recent weeks to speak to the NAACP, the country's most prominent civil rights group, and a group of black and Hispanic journalists, both of which Clinton addressed.
National political surveys show Clinton has amassed huge leads among both black and Hispanic voters, with Trump's support among blacks registering only in the low single-digit percentages and one poll showing he had only marginally better support among Hispanics, about 14 percent.
Yet Trump, often given to boastful claims, told one rally that if he wins the presidency in the November 8 election and runs for re-election in 2020 he would win 95 percent of the black vote.
"I will produce for the inner cities, and I will produce for the African Americans," Trump said. "The Democrats will not produce, and all they've done is taken advantage of your vote. That's all they've done. And once the election's over, they go back to their palaces in Washington, and you know what, they do nothing for you, just remember it."
Less than three months before the election, Clinton holds a 5.3-percentage-point edge over Trump in several national surveys, according to the political web site realclearpolitics.com. But U.S. political analysts say she holds a significant edge in a collection of battleground election states where the outcome of the quadrennial presidential race is likely to be decided.
In the United States, the race for the White House is not decided by the popular vote, but rather in the electoral college, where the voting is determined by the outcome in each state, weighted according to its population.
Clinton has been off the campaign trail for several days, concentrating her efforts on major fund-raising events, meeting wealthy donors in Martha's Vineyard, a summer playground along the Atlantic Ocean in the northeastern state of Massachusetts.
On Tuesday, she is attending a Los Angeles fund-raising lunch hosted by pop singer Justin Timberlake and prominent Hollywood figures that costs $33,400 per guest, then she heads back across the country for more fund-raising in the wealthy Hamptons area of Long Island outside New York.