Abraham Lincoln was "not big on the Hispanic movement", president Donald Trump said on Friday, as he attempted to woo black and Latino voters at a campaign rally in Georgia, a state that could prove pivotal in the outcome of November's election.
“We call them the ‘Latinos for Trump,’ where we are polling at numbers that I guess no Republican has ever polled at before, perhaps, Abraham Lincoln..." Mr Trump, 74, told supporters at the Dobbins Air Reserve Base in Atlanta.
"But in those days, he wasn’t big into the Hispanic movement, I think. He had other things to think about,” the commander-in-chief added, before going on to claim that he has done more for the black community than any other president since Lincoln, who played a key role in helping bring an end to slavery in the US.
During Friday night's rally, the president made a series of promises to black and ethnic minority voters, including establishing Juneteenth, which commemorates the end of slavery, as a federal holiday.
Just a month out from election day, the president also pledged to designate two groups as terrorist organizations: the white supremacist Ku Klux Klan and the amorphous movement known as antifa, which opposes fascism.
He also promised to increase access to capital in black communities, create more jobs, support black-owned businesses and expand opportunity zones.
Mr Trump said he "will always put Americans first and that includes very, very importantly, black Americans," he told supporters in the majority black city. The speech and a fact sheet provided by the Trump campaign did not spell out how the president would deliver those promises.
Republicans have controlled Georgia for almost two decades, but the most recent polls show the race for the state could go down to the wire. According to a Siena College/The New York Times survey, the president and his Democratic rival Joe Biden, 77, are tied on 45 per cent each.
"We call them the 'Latinos for Trump,' where we are polling at numbers that I guess no Republican has ever polled at before, perhaps, Abraham Lincoln. But in those days, he wasn't big into the Hispanic movement, I think. He had other things to think about." -- Trump pic.twitter.com/YPcgSxzcgb— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) September 26, 2020
The president's announcements came during a two-day campaign swing that ticked off a long list of boxes, in terms of both geographically key constituencies.
He unveiled what aides termed a "vision" for health care in North Carolina, where polls show he and Mr Biden are tied.
Mr Trump also held a rally in Jacksonville, Florida, one of the most hotly contested battleground states. He courted Hispanic voters near Miami and Black voters in Atlanta. And he held another rally Friday night in Newport News, Virginia.
Mr Biden is well ahead of Trump in that state, but the location is close to key North Carolina counties that are difficult for the president to visit, according to the campaign, because not all airports can accommodate Air Force One and its landing requirements.