As President Donald Trump struggles with his response to widespread protests for racial justice, he was headed to Dallas Thursday for what the White House has described as a roundtable with faith leaders, law enforcement officials, and small business owners on “historic economic, health, and justice disparities in American communities.”
The president will also hold his first in-person fundraiser in several months since campaign activity largely came to halt amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The trip comes as the president is looking to regain his political footing amid sagging poll numbers and a tumultuous couple of weeks during which the president has struggled with how to respond amid mass demonstrations in reaction to the death of George Floyd, a black man who died in Minneapolis police custody.
Ja’Ron Smith, the deputy director of the White House Office of American Innovation, said Thursday’s roundtable will be an opportunity for the president to address the disparities that exist within American society on an economic level.
“The president is going to talk about a lot of the solutions that we have to deal with some of the historic disparities that exists for vulnerable populations, historic disparities on healthcare, justice and economics," Smith told ABC News. "We'll get into a little more detail on what it takes to create a holistic strategy for the prosperity of our most vulnerable communities."
The White House’s announcement of Thursday’s roundtable makes no direct mention of race or racial disparities, but it comes as the president has been under pressure to hold a listening session with the members of the African American community in the wake of Floyd’s killing.
The president held a roundtable discussion with members of law enforcement at the White House Monday and met with some African American supporters at the White House Wednesday.
Those two events featured participants who were largely uncritical of Trump's approach to black Americans, racial justice and policing. There have been no signs Trump has spoken with any protesters, tens of thousands of whom have gathered just outside his doorstep in the streets of Washington.
The White House has yet to release a list of participants in Thursday’s roundtable, which is being held at the predominantly-white Evangelical Gateway Church in an upscale Dallas neighborhood.
The president’s visit to Dallas also comes as the White House has said they are actively crafting a police reform proposal. White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said the priority was to strike a balance between “ensuring police can do their job and ensuring that there is needed reform in the aftermath of the killing of George Floyd.”
The White House has yet to reveal what sorts of reforms they are likely to endorse but the president has said broadly that he is open to considering some reforms to carry out policing in what he described as a “more gentle fashion.”
"The president has spent the last ten days quietly and diligently working on proposals to address the issues that the protesters have raised across the country -- legitimate issues," McEnany told reporters Wednesday. "And that body of work, I'm told, is reaching its final edits, and we hope to produce it for you in the coming days. I can't promise you it's tomorrow, but in the coming days, we look to deliver that."