And by “other candidates,” I think we know which particular candidate they have in mind.
Here’s the key bit from yesterday’s presser in Boulder, held just a mile away from tonight’s debate. Step one: Pronounce Trump persona non grata among Hispanic Republicans. That may or may not actually be true among rank-and-file voters, but the threat here doesn’t bite without that assumption, does it?
“We want candidates to know: We’re monitoring your language. We are monitoring what you propose. And we’re going to hold you accountable,” said Alfonso Aguilar, head of the American Principles Project’s Latino Partnership…
Although she did not refer to him by name, [Rosario] Marin, who supports former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, made clear her remarks were directed at businessman Donald Trump, whose rhetoric about Hispanics has worried GOP officials.
“We have not worked on behalf of this party for decades only to see our community work undone by the divisiveness of some candidates,” she added. “I will not name names, but one in particular has earned my absolute disgust and contempt. I will not dirty my mouth by pronouncing his name. In fact, grouping him as a candidate is an insult to the serious candidates we have in this primary.”
In other words, a Jeb Bush backer, who served as U.S. Treasurer under George W., got together with some allies to conveniently declare Jeb’s biggest headache in the race unelectable at the very moment when Bush needs some traction in the polls. But that’s not all: This was also meant as a warning to Ted Cruz, potentially a far more resilient threat to Bush than Trump and a man who’s guilty of … I’m still not sure what. Like I said last week, Trump’s two biggest sins in the eyes of immigration activists — endorsing mass deportation and suggesting that violent criminals are overrepresented among illegals — aren’t sins that Cruz shares. On the contrary, Cruz has never ruled out legal status for illegals. Cruz’s “sin,” as it were, is simply demanding a stronger border and resisting a path to citizenship. Is that all it takes to earn this group’s opprobrium? Because if so, then maybe it’s not so much Trump’s “extremism” that’s really irking this group. Maybe it’s the fact that he’s a border hawk, period.
“It’s a shot across the bow to candidates who embrace Trump and who embrace those proposals that you should be worried, because we’re going to call you out,” [APPLP director Alfonso Aguilar] said. “This is how you build political leverage, so we can have an exchange. So if they want to talk to us, great, but at the end we want change, and if we don’t see it, they will hear from us.”
Cruz reached out to all the participants in the meeting in advance in an effort to assuage their concerns, but Aguilar said the group is looking to see a change in policy…
“What we’re saying is, if you support ending birthright citizenship, if you’re for criticizing undocumented immigrants, and you’re buddying up to Trump, you will have a problem winning the general election,” Aguilar said, saying they will forcefully make that case to voters of all stripes who find themselves captivated by such rhetoric.
Does Cruz support ending birthright citizenship? Yep — but he’s also countered conservatives who insist that ending birthright citizenship can be done by simple statute. Not so, says Cruz. It would take a constitutional amendment, which is a polite way of saying, “Forget about it, it’s never going to happen.” Does Cruz support mass deportation Trump-style? Curiously enough, he won’t say. He spent the better part of a segment on Megyn Kelly’s show in August dodging that very question. Is Cruz “buddying up to Trump”? I guess, but literally everyone understands that it’s for strategic reasons. Cruz thinks he’ll inherit Trump’s anti-establishment voters at some point in the race and is taking care not to alienate them. And even with that being so, Cruz has held off on trying to match Trump’s most red-meat immigration statements. So Cruz’s big sin here, to the extent that even this is true, is that he’s … “criticiz[ed] undocumented immigrants,” who are in fact breaking federal law in coming to the United States. Evidently that’s all it takes to risk excommunication by Aguilar and his allies: Criticizing illegals.
None of which is to suggest that Trump doesn’t potentially have a major problem with Latino voters in the general election. Some polls show a dire problem, some show more of a “Republicans always do this badly” problem, but the latest numbers from the AP are not good. Trump’s favorable rating with Latinos: 11/72, with six in 10 viewing him “very unfavorably.” That probably wouldn’t lose him any states that Romney won in 2012, but only because Romney lost all of the states where the Latino vote might have mattered. If you’re looking to pick up Florida and Colorado this time, Trump is a gamble.