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Politics Trump touts initiative for disadvantaged communities in Charlotte

22:50  07 february  2020
22:50  07 february  2020 Source:   thehill.com

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. - President Trump on Friday touted an initiative to boost development in underserved communities on the heels of his impeachment acquittal, giving a preview of what's to come as his reelection campaign kicks into full gear.

Donald Trump wearing a suit and tie: Trump touts initiative for disadvantaged communities in Charlotte© Getty Images Trump touts initiative for disadvantaged communities in Charlotte

Trump spoke at an "Opportunity Now Summit," an effort adjacent to the opportunity zones established through the GOP tax-cut legislation passed in late 2017 that aim to spur investment by offering tax advantages to developers in lower-income areas.

"We aren't waiting for tomorrow and we aren't deferring people's dreams to another day," Trump told the crowd. "We're taking action right now, and I mean right now, to create a future of dignity and security for all. And we believe in no American left behind, that's what it's all about."

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Trump said similar events would take place in cities nationwide in an attempt to bring together local entrepreneurs, officials and faith leaders to revitalize downtrodden areas.

But Friday's remarks, delivered in front of a friendly audience at Central Piedmont Community College, were light on specifics for the Opportunity Now effort and instead focused on many of the same topics that are hallmarks of the president's campaign rallies.

"This isn't a rally," Trump said before mocking the Iowa Democratic caucuses debacle and telling the audience the November election was critical to prevent "the other side" from destroying "everything we've built."

Trump's remarks picked up on some of the themes of his Tuesday State of the Union address to Congress, which itself functioned as a pitch for his reelection. The president boasted about the latest jobs report, talked about building an "inclusive economy," took credit for the low unemployment rate particularly among minority communities and touted his administration's work on new trade agreements.

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Trump also invited onstage one of his guests at the State of the Union, Tony Rankins, an Army veteran who works as a carpenter in an opportunity zone in Cincinnati and who has overcome drug addiction after suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

The speech was chocked with explicit appeals to black voters. He highlighted criminal justice reform legislation he signed in late 2018, low unemployment rates for African Americans, investments in historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and his support for school choice expansion.

Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson, the lone black member of Trump's Cabinet, introduced Trump before he took the stage.

Carson praised Trump for signing legislation that provides millions of dollars in annual funding for HBCUs and the economic gains during the current administration.

He also pushed back on allegations of racism against Trump.

"I've come to know the president on a personal level as a friend," Carson said. "He is a man who is deeply driven by a sense of kindness and compassion."

The trip to Charlotte was Trump's first time outside of Washington, D.C., since the Senate voted earlier this week to acquit him on two articles of impeachment. The president didn't take long to complain about the "failed impeachment hoax."

Reps. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), Ted Budd (R-N.C.), Mark Walker (R-N.C.) and Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) were among the lawmakers who joined Trump onstage. The president praised them as warriors before introducing them individually.

"It was the impeachment hoax," he said. "And now that's a thing of the past so now we have the failed impeachment hoax."

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