Donald Trump may be back on top with a majority of GOP voters, but he’s quickly losing the conservative Latino vote – as is Ted Cruz. This creates a serious problem for the Republicans, as no candidate of either party has been able to win the White House without significant Hispanic support.
At the heart of Hispanic opposition to front-runner Trump are the highly offensive and racist comments he has made about Mexican immigrants and his calls for wholesale deportations. At the same time, Cruz – born of a Cuban immigrant father – has refused to call Trump out on his racism, and even agrees with his rival that the borders should be fortified and birthright citizenship ended.
This has caused grave concerns for Mario Lopez, who presides over the Hispanic Leadership Fund. While Lopez agrees that US immigration policy is in need of reform, he says: “Every insult hurled at hardworking Hispanic families and thinly-veiled anti-immigrant pandering not only gets the radical Left one step closer to keeping hold of the White House, it imperils progress on a whole host of issues that conservatives hold dear.”
In order to address this concern and identify potential GOP nominees who will not get sufficient support from the Hispanic electorate to win the Presidency, two dozen conservative Latino activists will gather in Boulder, Colorado on Monday, October 27th, where the next Republican debate is scheduled for that evening. Among the attendees will be representatives of LIBRE Initiative, a scheme concocted by David and Charles Koch in order to convince Hispanics to support GOP candidates and their ultra-right wing billionaire agenda. Ironically, the Koch brothers have contributed millions to anti-immigrant candidates as well. Nonetheless, this “grass-roots” organization has been busy in states with large Hispanic populations – much to the consternation of Democrats.
The Republican Party has apparently learned little from the election of 2012. During that cycle, Presidential candidate Mitt Romney suggested that illegal immigrants should deport themselves, causing him to lose most of the Hispanic vote. Currently, demographic trends show significant increases in the Latino population in Western US as well as critical swing states in the South such as Virginia, North Carolina and Georgia.
So far, the GOP Establishment has done little to refute Donald Trump’s comments and proposals. Ted Cruz has made attempts to mend fences with his fellow Hispanics – and he still has some support from the NHCLC. Cruz recently met with Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, the organization’s president. Rodriguez describes Cruz as “a leader who we admire and appreciate.” He adds, “His commitment to country, faith and family reflect Latino conservative values.”
That endorsement won’t be enough to propel Cruz to the nomination, let alone the White House. Currently, his poll numbers range from 4 to 10 percent, depending on the primary state surveyed. Hispanic conservative’s main concern is Trump, who now leads at 32% and is favored to win the GOP nomination. Latino Republicans are not alone in their fears. The GOP Establishment has also realized that Trump could very well bring the entire party to its knees. There have been calls for the leadership to take him down. The danger is that any attempts to do so could very well galvanize Trump supporters, making him even stronger.
One thing is certain: to varying degrees, Republican candidates have managed to alienate a key part of the electorate. Without Hispanic support, it will be game over for the GOP’s presidential aspirations.