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What to know about Trump’s outreach to Arab Americans led by his daughter Tiffany’s father-in-law

This image courtesy of John Akouri shows, from left, House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., Massad Boulos, Tiffany Trump's father-in-law, and Rep. Lisa McClain, R-Mich., posing for a photo on June 1 In 2024, in Waterford Township, Michigan Boulos, a Lebanese businessman whose son married Tiffany Trump two years ago is now helping Donald Trump with outreach in the Arab-American community.  Massad Boulos has traveled to Michigan twice in recent weeks to meet with nearly fifty members of the Arab-American community, in addition to one-on-one sessions with community leaders.  (AP Photo/John Akouri)

This image courtesy of John Akouri shows, from left, House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., Massad Boulos, Tiffany Trump’s father-in-law, and Rep. Lisa McClain, R-Mich., posing for a photo on June 1 In 2024, in Waterford Township, Michigan Boulos, a Lebanese businessman whose son married Tiffany Trump two years ago is now helping Donald Trump with outreach in the Arab-American community. Massad Boulos has traveled to Michigan twice in recent weeks to meet with nearly fifty members of the Arab-American community, in addition to one-on-one sessions with community leaders. (AP Photo/John Akouri)

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 youngest daughter, two years ago. Boulos, a Lebanese-born businessman, is now leveraging his connections in the Arab-American community and meeting with its leaders in Michigan, home to many Arab-American Democrats disenchanted with Biden.


But any apparent political opportunity for Trump may be limited. Many Arab Americans remain offended by Trump’s ban, during his time in office, on immigration from several Muslim countries and other comments they consider offensive. Trump has also criticized Biden for not being a strong enough supporter of Israel.

In interviews with The Associated Press, Boulos outlined his outreach efforts and discussed his plans. Those who met him shared their thoughts on whether the strategy is working.

An unknown emissary

Boulos, who regularly heads a Nigeria-based conglomerate abroad, first became directly involved in U.S. politics in 2019 when he met Trump. His son Michael was in a relationship with Tiffany Trump at the time.

Before the 2020 election, Boulos assisted in Arab-American outreach in a minor role. His involvement has expanded significantly this year as Trump allies look to exploit divisions within Biden’s Democratic base. Boulos works closely with an Arab Americans for Trump group that has set up activities in Arizona and Michigan.

The Michigan Meetings

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

Just over a week later, Boulos returned for a more extensive series of assignments. He held individual meetings with several prominent community leaders and organized larger gatherings, each drawing nearly 50 Arab-American community members.

Those who have worked with Boulos so far are skeptical about the impact of these efforts. They note that there is a lack of substantive evidence to support the claim that Trump is the better candidate for Arab Americans.

“Massad cannot convince people to side with Trump because he has not offered anything of substance to the community,” said Osama Siblani, a publisher of Arab American News in Dearborn.

Electoral impact

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

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

Michigan is home to the largest concentration of Arab Americans in the country, with more than 310,000 residents of Middle Eastern or North African descent, according to the most recent census.

More than 100,000 Democratic primary voters in Michigan cast “voluntary” votes in the presidential race in February, enough to pick up two delegates. In two Muslim-majority Michigan cities, including Dearborn, home to nearly 110,000 people, the “uncommitted” vote defeated Biden in the Democratic primaries.

The Trump connection

Boulos is the latest member to emerge from Trump’s political circle. The former president has a long history of having family members and their relatives play key roles in his campaigns and in the White House.

Trump recently selected his daughter-in-law, Lara Trump, to co-chair the Republican National Committee.

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

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

But for some participants in the rallies, the direct connection to Trump matters little if Boulos cannot make promises about future policy.

“Family members are doing well. But at the end of the day, we need to sit down with someone who is going to be a policymaker,” Siblani said. “And knowing Trump, only Trump can sit down and talk about his policies.”

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