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Republicans ‘need to do better’ on Black vote: fmr press secretary Sean Spicer

The Republican National Convention begins on Monday as Republicans attempt to engage voters in a four-day event that will see President Trump re-nominated as the party’s candidate for the general election in November.

In an interview with Yahoo Finance, former White House official Sean Spicer spoke about the election, the coronavirus pandemic, and the enthusiasm of voters.

“The Republican party in general has done horrible in the last couple decades with the Black vote,” Spicer said. “They need to do better.”

In order to get voters excited, Republicans say there will be a “nightly surprise” each day of the convention. The convention features speakers that include members of Trump’s family, the administration, and other political allies. Some of those efforts will be made in part to entice Black voters who overwhelmingly support the Democratic nominee, former Vice President Joe Biden.

“It’s a fact that Republicans wouldn't go into Black neighborhoods or Black churches,” he added. “Or back chambers of commerce because they weren't part of the coalition you needed to get to 50 plus one.”

“That's a mistake in the party, both in terms of the short term and definitely in the long term.”

Click here for Yahoo Finance's full coverage of the 2020 election

Spicer explained that while Republicans have done a “really bad job” of engaging with Black voters, the current President has “really made an effort with his policies to talk about what he’s doing for the Black community.”

“Frankly, they’re policies that haven’t been done by Republicans or Democrats,” he said

Former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer participates in the Yahoo Finance All Markets Summit: A World of Change at The TimesCenter on Thursday, Sept. 20, 2018, in New York. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)
Former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer participates in the Yahoo Finance All Markets Summit: A World of Change at The TimesCenter on Thursday, Sept. 20, 2018, in New York. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)

“It’s going to be a close election”

Spicer added that Democrats have been given a “huge pass” through the years, referencing comments that have been made by Biden on race.

Biden continues to maintain a lead among Black voters. And nationally, Trump trails Biden by nearly 9 points according to a composite of presidential polls by FiveThirtyEight.

But Spicer says he “isn’t worried” that Trump could lose the election.

“It's going to be a close election,” Spicer explained. “The reality is this isn't a national election. It's a battleground state election, anywhere between, you know, 10 and 15. states are going to decide this election.”

Spicer went on to say that the race would start to “tighten up,” as Biden currently holds a narrow lead over Trump in battleground states.

But the coronavirus pandemic continues to weigh on the election as COVID-19 has forced Biden’s campaign events to go virtual.

Spicer says that “the studies have all shown that engaging on a personal level with voters is the most effective thing that you could possibly do,” hinting that Biden’s camp might not have the best “ground game.”

COVID-19 is huge

In the end, he explained, the pandemic is “going to be huge.”

“How people believe this government is doing in terms of solving that is what matters,” he said.

Despite the criticism, Spicer believes that Trump has been “pitch perfect” in recent weeks in his response to the virus in “how he's discussing the the need to address the virus both personally in terms of mask wearing, social distancing, etc. and where we are as a government trying to pursue both therapeutics and a vaccine.”

But in the beginning, he explained, there was a period of time where the White House “could have done a better job messaging what we should have been doing and how we should be focused.”

The President’s disapproval rating has been steadily increasing since the start of the pandemic, hitting a high at the end of June.

And though the virus continues to impact the President’s approval numbers, Spicer believes the elections will come down to a “binary choice.”

“At the end of the day, it's not a question of whether or not you necessarily approve of President Trump or not,” he said. “This is a binary choice. Do you want four more years of him? Or do you want to change horses and go with Joe Biden?”

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Kristin Myers is a reporter at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter.

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