Donald Trump says black communities 'in worst shape ever'
Donald Trump has faced criticism after declaring that African Americans are in the worst shape "ever, ever, ever", in a town named after a slaveholder.
The Republican nominee's latest outreach to black voters, at a North Carolina rally, drew a swift backlash.
Many on social media questioned whether Mr Trump had considered the US history of slavery and segregation.
It follows a report that his charity used funds to settle lawsuits for which he was personally liable.
At Tuesday's campaign event in Kenansville, the White House hopeful said: "We're going to rebuild our inner cities because our African-American communities are absolutely in the worst shape they've ever been in before.
"Ever, ever, ever."
He continued: "You take a look at the inner cities, you get no education, you get no jobs, you get shot walking down the street.
"They're worse, I mean honestly, places like Afghanistan are safer than some of our inner cities.
"And I say to the African-American communities, and I think it's resonating, because you see what's happening with my poll numbers with African Americans. They're going, like, high."
The businessman-turned-politician is continuing his outreach to African-American voters by meeting a group of pastors Wednesday in Cleveland, Ohio.
The BBC's Anthony Zurcher says Mr Trump's recent overtures to the black community may be aimed primarily at assuring moderate white voters of his racial sensitivity.
According to recent polls, he still faces an uphill climb in winning over even a modest level of black support.
Aside from a blip in one unconventional tracking poll, Mr Trump's black support continues to be mired in low single digits.
This is roughly equal to the levels earned by the Republicans who ran against Barack Obama, the first black US president.
Last month, Mr Trump also raised eyebrows when he asked black voters: "What do you have to lose?"
He told a nearly all-white audience in Michigan that African Americans "are living in poverty" and their "schools are no good".
Mr Trump said his opponent, Democrat Hillary Clinton, "would rather provide a job to a refugee" than to unemployed black youths.
Meanwhile, his running mate Mike Pence has been defending the nominee against new criticism of his charitable foundation.
The vice-presidential candidate told NBC in an interview aired on Tuesday evening that he is confident the Trump Foundation "fully complied with the law".
The Washington Post reported hours earlier that Mr Trump used $258,000 from his charity for legal settlements involving his Mar-a-Largo resort in Florida and a New York golf course.
The transactions could violate federal tax laws against using charities for "self-dealing", according to the newspaper.
The Post reported that in 2007, Mr Trump used foundation funds when his Palm Beach club was fined $120,000 by the town for having a flagpole almost twice the height allowed under local rules.
As part of the settlement, he donated $125,000 to veterans' charities from the Trump Foundation.
The foundation's money comes mainly from other donors, not Mr Trump himself.
The Post also reported that in 2010, a golfer sued when he was denied a $1m prize for a hole-in-one in a charity tournament at Mr Trump's course outside New York City.
A $158,000 settlement also came from the Trump Foundation.
The report was based on interviews and legal documents.
Mr Pence told NBC there are "a number of factual errors in that story", though he was unable to specify any.