MIAMI (WSVN) - Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump arrived at the Little Haiti Cultural Center, Friday afternoon, to meet with members of South Florida’s Haitian American community.
Trump’s planned South Florida stop comes after he backtracked on accusations that President Barack Obama was not born in the United States and is now shifting his focus to black voters in the hope of gaining their support.
Members of the Secret Service could be seen lining up around the cultural center, along 59th Terrace and Northeast Second Avenue, in anticipation of Trump’s arrival. 7Skyforce HD hovered above the scene as his motorcade arrived at 5 p.m., about one hour after his scheduled arrival time.
His supporters also waited outside the center for the meet-and-greet. “Donald Trump has reached out to blacks and Caribbeans and Haitians in a way that I’ve never seen a presidential candidate do, going back years and years,” said Trump supporter Michael Barnett. “Maybe this is the first time that any candidate of either party has directly appealed to black folks, and it’s important because it recognizes the importance and shows respect to the Haitian people and their growing influence in South Florida.”
Barnett is the Palm Beach County Republican Chairperson for the meet-and-greet. “It’s so important to campaign to all Americans — blacks and whites,” Barnett said. “He’s not taking anything for granted.”
Not all Haitian Americans, however, are supportive of Trump’s visit, like former North Miami Mayor Joe Celestin. “I think the way he has handled the campaign is unpresidential to me,” Celestin said. “Therefore, I’m not interested in endorsing him or attending meetings to listen to his rhetoric.”
Inside the Little Haiti Cultural Center, Trump spoke about the election, as well as the deadly 2010 earthquake in Haiti.
“Today, we begin a new chapter. Together we will build a relationship based on mutual respect and friendship and love and our community, and we will really do something very special with our commonly shared values,” Trump said. “Over 300,000 dead, millions displaced or injured, homes, businesses, schools reduced to rubble, but despite the suffering, Haiti showed the world so much heart and so much incredible resilience, but the truth is Haiti is still suffering very badly.”
Trump then spoke at a rally in Downtown Miami at the James L. Knight Center.
Residents across South Florida gathered for the event to see Trump. Many wore the signature “Make America Great Again” paraphernalia.
“It’s great to be in my second home, Florida,” Trump said when he took the stage. “In the City of Miami where [I have] so many wonderful friends and projects and employees. I really appreciate it, I love this city.”
Across the street from the Knight Center, protesters held signs against the Republican nominee.
Trump was in Washington, D.C. earlier, to settle the score on the topic of whether or not President Obama was born in the United States.
Trump tried to pin some of the confusion on Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. “Her campaign of 2008 started the birther controversy,” said Trump. “I finished it! I finished it, you know what I mean? President Barack Obama was born in the United States — period. Now, we all want to get back to making America strong and great again.”
“Mr. Trump presented himself to me as a joker,” Celestin said. “I’m sorry to say that. I wish him luck.”
In an interview with the press, Obama said, “I was pretty confident about where I was born. I think most people were, as well, and my hope would be that the presidential election reflects more serious issues than that.”
Meanwhile, Trump released some of his medical records, Thursday, to the public, in which the results were reportedly normal. He also appeared on Jimmy Fallon’s “The Tonight Show.”
Trump called Florida a must-win state.
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