Trump to stump in Philly on Friday for African American votes

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Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at the American Legion Convention on Sept. 1, 2016, in Cincinnati.

Gov. Christie wasn't kidding when he told Republicans in Philadelphia on Sunday that their nominee for president, Donald Trump, would soon pay a visit.

Trump will visit Philadelphia on Friday afternoon for a private meeting with African American voters at a North Broad Street catering hall operated by a nonprofit controlled by the Greater Exodus Baptist Church.

Trump's campaign declined to comment, but the visit was confirmed by two congressional candidates - both African American - who were invited to the event by the Republican State Committee.

Greater Exodus is headed by the Rev. Herb Lusk II, a onetime Eagles running back and a prominent conservative who twice hosted visits there by President George W. Bush, and who spoke at the 2000 Republican National Convention in Philadelphia.

Lusk, who is on vacation, said he heard from the media that the Trump campaign had rented the hall, known as the View.

"Obviously the View is open to anyone who wants to pay the cost to hire it," Lusk said. "But in terms of an invitation from me, that hasn't happened."

Lusk said he had not determined which candidate he will support for president.

"I'm one of those independents who is still vacillating on which direction I'm going to go," he said. "We're kind of caught in the middle."

But he joked the campaign could be good for business.

"We'd love to have Hillary come and hold an event as well," he said. "We want as much business as we can get."

Deborah Williams, the Republican nominee for the First Congressional District, said the Republican State Committee asked her to attend the Trump event.

"I've been asking and asking and asking for months, please come to Philadelphia," said Williams, who added she had never met Trump. "So I'm very happy."

Trump is also scheduled to visit a predominantly black church in Detroit on Saturday. The Detroit Free Press reported that his visit was initially billed as a speech to the congregation, but it is now a one-on-one television interview with the pastor.

James Jones, the Republican nominee in the Second Congressional District, said he was also invited to the Trump event by the Republican State Committee.

Christie, speaking at the Republican City Committee's annual fund-raiser in Northeast Philadelphia on Sunday, said the local party could help Trump to victory in Pennsylvania if it "just does a little bit to cut into the margin here."

Christie added, "Trump is coming to Philadelphia, and he is coming soon."

brennac@phillynews.com215-854-5973@ByChrisBrennan

Politics writer Thomas Fitzgerald contributed to this article.