Here’s another demonstration, says David Frum, that Bush is never more passionate than when he’s talking about immigration and biculturalism. The Trump/Bush debate over whether it’s appropriate to address Latino voters in Spanish is like the Christie/Paul argument over the NSA and civil liberties: Each man’s position on the issue speaks directly to what it is his fans like most about him. Trump’s the guy who’s demanding assimilation, Jeb’s more comfortable with multiculturalism, at least as Spanish speakers transition to their new culture. He also says Trump “doesn’t believe in tolerance,” which means … what, exactly? If cracking down on illegals is “intolerant,” we have a much bigger amnesty problem with President Jeb than I feared. What he means, I guess, is that it’s inherently “intolerant” to discourage the speaking of languages other than English, even if you’re doing so because you think it’ll help immigrants integrate more quickly. In that case, a question: Is it also intolerant to demand that illegals learn English as a condition of gaining legal status? Because that’s what Jeb’s own immigration plan calls for.
By the way, new numbers from PPP on how Bush and Trump stack up with Latino voters. Jeb does better, as you’d expect, but “better” in this case is really a synonym for “less terrible.”
Jeb is -23 with Latinos, Trump is -41 — but overall Trump’s numbers are better thanks to his relative strength with white voters. Head to head with Hillary:
Assuming undecided Latino voters split roughly evenly, Jeb would be on track to take about a third of the Latino vote, not half bad by the usual GOP standards and an improvement on Romney’s dismal take (just 27 percent) against Obama three years ago. On the other hand, for all the heavy breathing about Trump alienating Latinos, he does no worse here against Hillary than Mitt did against Obama. (Then again, given how weak a candidate Clinton is compared to O, that’s no achievement.) Overall Trump’s actually a few points closer to Clinton than Bush is, again on the strength of slightly greater support from white voters. Maybe all of this turns around if/when Jeb becomes nominee and begins a charm offensive in Hispanic media — or maybe it’s a simple function of the fact that most Latinos are reliable Democrats. Do note that even the relatively little known Bernie Sanders leads all Republican challengers comfortably among Latinos here. And Marco Rubio, the GOP’s great Latino hope, trails Hillary among that demographic 62/30.