Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump said his party must do a better job appealing to African-American voters and that he wants the GOP to become their political home as it was in the era of Abraham Lincoln.
"I fully recognize that outreach to the African-American community is an area where the Republican Party must do better, and will do better,'' Trump said during a rally in Fredericksburg, located between Richmond and Washington in the critical battleground state of Virginia.
In spite of past fiery rhetoric that alienated many minority voters, Trump said that he wants "an inclusive party.'' He noted that the "GOP is the party of Abraham Lincoln'' and said, "I want our party to be a home of the African-American voter once again.''
Trump has been working in recent days to boost his appeal among African-American voters -- declaring Friday that he could win 95 percent of the black vote at the end of his first term in office, if he is elected.
Trump's new minority outreach efforts followed a shake-up in his campaign management in the face of falling poll numbers that quickly prompted noticeable changes to his campaigning tactics. In Fredericksburg, he spoke with the aid of a teleprompter, as he has at rallies all this week, and the result was a more measured delivery that lacked the rants and tangents that marked many of previous speeches.
Earlier Saturday in New York, Trump met with his new National Hispanic Advisory Council for Trump, which will work to help him focus his message, as well as provide assistance with the campaign's Hispanic outreach.
Polling shows Trump lagging significantly behind Democratic rival Hillary Clinton among minority voters, partially due to some of the more wayward comments he has made since entering the race. He launched his campaign last year with a speech that accused Mexico of sending rapists and criminals across the border, and has since vowed to deport all of the estimated 11 million people living in the U.S. illegally.
Helen Aguirre Ferré, director of Hispanic communications for the Republican National Committee, called the Hispanic outreach meeting a "game-changing'' opportunity.
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said in a statement that the group's participation "is just one component of our expansive effort to engage the Hispanic community, and their contributions will help us compete for every vote in every community all the way through Election Day.''
Trump also met Saturday with officers and detectives in the Stafford County Sheriff's Office in Stafford, located just north of Fredericksburg.