Ashley Bell on the Trump campaign’s outreach to African-Americans

By Alex Bregman

The national director of African-American outreach for the Republican National Committee, Ashley Bell, spoke to Yahoo Guest Anchor Stephanie Sy after meeting with Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump along with a number of Latino and African-American Republicans from the Republican National Committee at Trump Tower in New York City.

On the meeting, Bell said, “We really didn’t have a script, but Donald Trump wanted to hear from everyone. It was a pretty mixed crowd… half Latino, African-American.” Bell continued, “I think he heard a lot of the issues that they’re hearing out there organizing in communities. They heard about criminal justice reform. They talked about education. They all just gave him encouragement to keep talking about the issues no matter what the Democrats try to do and try to deter us with these racist accusations.”

Bell had never met Trump until the meeting and told Sy, “I wish America could see what I saw in the room today. He was very affable, very polite, very courteous, and he listened a lot.”

As to whether Trump is helping the Republican Party with African-American voters, Bell said, “The strategy has been to get the Republican Party in the game and in the discussion with black voters. Donald Trump took a bold move to start this conversation.”

Bell said Trump is taking steps that the previous party nominee, Mitt Romney, never did: “This is something you didn’t see with Mitt Romney. How many times could you say that Mitt Romney made a direct appeal to black voters? So as Republicans we’re excited that we have a candidate who is going out saying I want to go out to compete for this vote, and as long as we’re talking about what’s right and what’s wrong and what’s good and what’s bad in black communities, we’re in the discussion, and we’re glad to be there.”

Bell went on to dispute the notion that Trump has tried to appeal to those voters with racist attitudes in the United States. He said, “I take this very personally when I hear people say that he’s reaching for this bigoted vote, because I’m going to tell you as a strategist as well, there’s no way you could win an election with the very few racially bigoted people left in this country. There are some. They are real, but they’re not the 55 million people, the 60 million people you’re going to need to win. That’s where Hillary Clinton is wrong for trying to call out Donald Trump supporters as racist.”

Finally, Bell said it is “absolutely” a good idea for Trump to directly address minority crowds in person. When will he do that? Bell said, “Stay tuned. You’re going to see Donald Trump in some very new venues, and he’s going to be speaking to different communities of color with a very purposeful attempt to make sure we’re extending our message to as many Americans as possible.”