Hispanic conservatives plan pre-debate press conference to denounce certain Republican candidates; Update: Is Cruz really a target?

I can’t wait to find out who those candidates are.

Nice of these guys to hand the media a prefab “Republicans have a Latino problem” narrative literally on the eve of the next debate.


Attendees [at the meeting in Boulder on October 27] will be “the people and organizations the RNC and GOP campaigns count on to engage the Latino electorate,” said Alfonso Aguilar, head of the American Principles Project’s Latino Partnership and a lead organizer of the meeting. “We’ll discuss the tone of the primary, comments about the Hispanic community and some of the immigration proposals that have been made.”

After the meeting, the group plans to hold a news conference to “identify several candidates that will not have our support and who we are certain that if they become the GOP nominee will not get enough Latino voter support to win the general election,” Aguilar said…

Aguilar said they will focus especially on the comments and proposals of Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) among others…

Mario H. Lopez, president of the Hispanic Leadership Fund, said in an e-mail that “it must be crystal clear to my fellow conservatives: Border security and reforming the current system that impedes the rule of law are both necessary to resolving the current immigration mess our country is in. But 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.”

Among the groups there will be the LIBRE Initiative, a group funded by the libertarian Koch brothers, so yes, this probably will be mainly an attack on immigration restrictionism. Why Hispanic conservatives would want to perpetuate the idea that Latinos are single-issue voters rather than use media attention towards the debate to argue that there’s more at stake in next year’s election than who’ll be softer on the borders, I don’t know. Maybe a conservative reporter in attendance will ask. As for the stated focus on Trump and Cruz, while I understand why a guy who jumped to the top of the polls warning about rapists from Mexico and vowing to deport all illegals might be a target for Latino groups, I’m not sure what rhetorical sin Cruz has committed apart from being a little bit more of a border hawk than the rest of the GOP field. And I do mean “a little”: I’ll never tire of reminding you that even ultimate true conservative Ted Cruz is open to some form of legal status for illegal workers. He’s not Tom Tancredo or even Trump. But he’s not Marco Rubio either, which is to say he had the good sense not to back a comprehensive bill two years ago that would have granted legal status before security improvements were even in place. Is that why Cruz is being singled out at this presser, because he refused to support a bad deal that would have nonetheless pleased the amnesty lobby? Or is he being singled out because this is really just a de facto pep rally for border doves like Jeb Bush and Rubio, with Cruz, the “bad Latino,” cast as their foil?


As for Trump, the reason these groups may feel obliged to drum up opposition to him is because the organic opposition among Latino voters to his candidacy isn’t as huge in some surveys as you might expect:

A recent poll by SurveyUSA shows that Trump commands the support of 31 percent of Hispanics. That’s not only a higher share than Mitt Romney received in 2012 — it’s more than Republican George H.W. Bush received in 1988 when he won the general election.

Most Hispanics aren’t single-issue voters when it comes to immigration. A recent Gallup poll found that among registered Latino voters, 67 percent are at least willing to support a candidate who doesn’t share their views on immigration. And 18 percent don’t consider the issue important at all.

What’s more, many Hispanic citizens have little sympathy for immigrants who haven’t played by the rules. Especially among Latino voters born in the United States, resentment of immigrants who have entered the country illegally can run deep. Forty-two percent of American-born Hispanics disapprove of President Barack Obama’s executive actions to prevent the deportation of undocumented immigrants.

Having Trump as nominee would be, er, interesting in many ways, but one key way is how it would test the theory of many “reform conservatives” that a program that appealed to blue-collar voters would boost Latino support for the GOP even without a huge pander from the party on immigration. Trump’s program does appeal to the working class, but the fact that he’s such a hawk on the border might scare some Latinos away. Would he end up with a smaller share of that vote than previous Republican nominees because of immigration or a larger share because of his protectionist appeals?


Speaking of alienating a core voting bloc, in lieu of an exit question here’s a Trump tweet — or rather, a retweet — from this morning:


One of his fans wrote that and he beamed it out to all of his followers. Iowans can take a joke, right?

Update: Trump never apologizes, but sometimes his “interns” do. Here’s the walkback of the previous tweet.


Update (10/22): A spokesman for Cruz’s campaign says some of the groups participating in the event were caught off guard by the fact that Cruz is a target for others.

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