- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 4, 2020

President Trump showcased his appeal with minority voters on two fronts Wednesday, meeting at the White House with Kim Kardashian West and four black women granted clemency, and later addressing a large Hispanic advocacy group on their economic gains under his leadership.

Ms. Kardashian West, a businesswoman and reality TV star, visited the West Wing on another mission of criminal justice reform with Alice Marie Johnson, the grandmother whose life sentence was commuted by Mr. Trump at the celebrity’s urging in 2018 after Mrs. Johnson served 21 years in prison for drug trafficking.

Mrs. Johnson’s story of freedom and redemption, after she had been rejected for clemency by former President Barack Obama, became the subject of a $5 million Super Bowl ad from the Trump campaign aimed largely at black voters.

Accompanying them Wednesday were three women whose prison sentences were commuted last month by Mr. Trump: Tynice Nichole Hall, 36, who served nearly 14 years of an 18-year sentence for allowing her apartment to be used to sell drugs; Crystal Munoz, who spent 12 years in prison on a conviction for having a small role in a marijuana smuggling ring; and Judith Negron, 48, who had received a 35-year prison term for her role as a minority owner of a health care company engaged in a scheme to defraud the federal government.

The White House didn’t publicize the meeting. Ms. Kardashian West said she was “bringing light to these women and discuss more change that our justice system desperately needs!”

Former Obama administration official and CNN commentator Van Jones, who is involved in the effort, said Ms. Kardashian West “is helping formerly incarcerated women go from the jail house to the White House.”

“I hope @realDonaldTrump keeps granting clemencies & pardons to sisters like this,” Mr. Jones tweeted.

Recent polling shows the president is making gains with minority voters. After receiving about 8% support from black voters in 2016, Mr. Trump had the approval of 22% of black people in a Zogby Analytics poll last month.

The president received 28% support from Hispanic voters in the 2016 election, and the Zogby poll showed his job-approval rating among Hispanic voters now at 36%. Last week, his approval among Hispanic voters rose to 39% in a Morning Consult poll and 38% in a YouGov survey.

In November, a record 32 million Hispanic Americans are expected to be eligible to vote, topping the number of black eligible voters for the first time.

In the Democratic presidential primaries, black voters have gone heavily for former Vice President Joseph R. Biden, who has received 60% or more support from them. Hispanic voters generally have favored Sen. Bernard Sanders of Vermont; he received 39% of the Hispanic vote in Texas on Tuesday.

Speaking Wednesday to the Latino Coalition’s annual legislative conference in Washington, the president referred to the construction of his border wall, saying it’s one reason he’s doing relatively well with Hispanic voters.

“You know who wants the wall more than anybody else? The Hispanics,” Mr. Trump said. “They get it. They’re here, they want to be safe, and they know some of the people coming across are not the people that you want to be with. They understand the border better than anybody, and they want a safe border. It’s been a great relationship that I’ve had with Hispanic Americans.”

But Mario Carrillo, campaigns manager for the liberal immigration reform group America’s Voice, said the Super Tuesday primaries across the nation showed that Hispanics are motivated to turn out against the president this year.

“Last night and throughout the early primary states, Latino voters have shown that they are tired of the cruelty of the last four years,” she said. “Both in Texas and California, as well as Latino communities in North Carolina, Virginia, Utah, Colorado and elsewhere, Latinos made their voices heard ahead of what will be one of the most consequential elections of our lifetime.”

The president also highlighted to the Latino Coalition the economic gains of Hispanics from his policies.

“Under the booming Trump economy, Latinos are achieving record gains,” Mr. Trump said. “We have created 3 million new jobs for Hispanic Americans. Hispanic American unemployment has fallen to the lowest rate ever recorded.”

The president said his administration’s agenda of low taxes and low regulation “is delivering remarkable opportunity and security to millions of hardworking Hispanic American families.”

“Nearly 40 million Hispanic Americans live in households benefiting from our expansion of the child tax credit — providing an extra $2,000 yearly for the average family of four,” the president said.

His upbeat assessment was echoed by Rafael Cuellar, CEO of the ShopRite supermarket chain based in Passaic, New Jersey, who said Mr. Trump’s policies have enabled him to expand his holdings to include a liquor store and a fitness center.

“I’ve been able to glean those benefits because of the tax cuts that the administration put out and yourself did, Mr. President,” Mr. Cuellar said on the stage. “I can’t tell you how grateful I am. If it weren’t for those things, my business would have stagnated. We wouldn’t have been able to expand and have many more jobs, and more opportunity for other people.

“Hopefully we’ll continue to keep on growing for the next five years, thanks to you. Keep up the good work.”

• Dave Boyer can be reached at dboyer@washingtontimes.com.

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