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What you need to know about Trump's outreach efforts to Arab Americans led by his daughter Tiffany's father-in-law

What you need to know about Trump's outreach efforts to Arab Americans led by his daughter Tiffany's father-in-law
What you need to know about Trump's outreach efforts to Arab Americans led by his daughter Tiffany's father-in-law


LANSING, Mich. (AP) Donald Trump's allies are working to win over Arab American voters unhappy with President Joe Biden's support for Israel.

The effort is led by Massad Boulos, whose son married Tiffany Trump, the former president's younger daughter, two years ago. Boulos, a Lebanese-born businessman, is now using his connections in the Arab-American community and meeting with its leaders in Michigan, where many Arab-American Democrats disenchanted with Biden live.

But any apparent political opportunity for Trump may be limited. Many Arab Americans remain offended by Trump's ban while in office on immigration from several Muslim-majority countries and other remarks they consider insulting. Trump also criticized Biden for not being a strong enough supporter of Israel.

In interviews with The Associated Press, Boulos described his outreach efforts and discussed his plans. Those who met him shared their thoughts on the effectiveness of the strategy.

An unknown emissary

Boulos, who frequently runs a Nigeria-based conglomerate abroad, first became directly involved in U.S. politics in 2019 when he met with Trump. At the time, her son Michael was dating Tiffany Trump.

Before the 2020 election, Boulos helped raise awareness among Arab Americans in a minor role. His involvement has expanded significantly this year as Trump allies aim to exploit divisions within Biden's Democratic base. Boulos works closely with an Arab-Americans for Trump group that has established operations in Arizona and Michigan.

The Michigan Meetings

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In May, Massad and Michael Boulos traveled to metro Detroit with Richard Grenell, a key foreign policy adviser to Trump and his former ambassador to Germany, to meet with a group of nearly 40 Arab-American activists from across the country.

A little over a week later, Boulos returned for a series of more in-depth engagements. He led one-on-one meetings with several prominent community leaders and organized larger gatherings, each bringing together nearly 50 members of the Arab American community.

Those who have collaborated with Boulos so far are skeptical about the impact of these efforts. They note the lack of substantial evidence supporting the claim that Trump is the best candidate for Arab Americans.

Massad is unable to convince people to side with Trump because he hasn't offered anything substantial to the community, said Osama Siblani, publisher of the Arab American News newspaper in Dearborn.

Electoral impact

Both major parties have focused on the Arab-American vote due to the Michigan community's large population, which is expected to play a decisive role in the presidential election.

Trump won Michigan by just over 10,000 votes in 2016. Biden took the state back for Democrats in 2020 by a margin of about 154,000 votes.

Michigan is home to the nation's largest concentration of Arab-Americans, with more than 310,000 residents of Middle Eastern or North African ancestry, according to the most recent census.

In February, more than 100,000 Democratic primary voters in Michigan voted for non-presidential candidates, enough to choose two delegates. In two Muslim-majority Michigan cities, including Dearborn, which has a population of nearly 110,000, the uncommitted vote defeated Biden in the Democratic primary.

The Trump connection

Boulos is the latest relative to rise in Trump's political circle. The former president has a long history of giving his family members and their loved ones key roles in his campaigns and in the White House.

Recently, Trump chose his daughter-in-law, Lara Trump, as co-chair of the Republican National Committees.

During his first term, he appointed his daughter Ivanka as a senior White House adviser and his son-in-law Jared Kushner to oversee major issues such as Middle East peace, criminal justice reform and the government's response to the coronavirus.

Boulos considers Trump a family friend. But Boulos insists his outreach efforts so far have been more of a personal effort to reconnect with his friends. He adds that key messages emerging from meetings with Arab Americans are being communicated to Trump and influenced a recent statement on the Middle East posted on Trump's social media platform, Truth Social.

But for some meeting attendees, the direct connection to Trump matters little since Boulos cannot make promises about future policy.

The family members are doing well. But ultimately we have to sit down with someone who will be a policy maker, Siblani said. And knowing Trump, only Trump can sit down and talk about his policies.


Associated Press journalists Jill Colvin in Washington, Abby Sewell in Beirut, Lebanon, and Chinedu Asadu in Lagos, Nigeria, contributed to this report.




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