Donald Trump

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Wrapping Up the Republican National Convention

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and vice presidential nominee Mike Pence on the last night of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. / photo courtesy RNC

As part of the Orlando Sentinel‘s Central Florida 100, participants were asked to provide nightly commentary about the Republican National Convention events and proceedings in Cleveland. Below is a compilation of my commentary published in the Orlando Sentinel online last week, with a link to all the commentaries. I look forward to critiquing the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia next week.

Before moving on, here are some parting thoughts about the “Hispandering” moments at the Republican convention in Cleveland.

Hispanics para Trump

There were few Latinos at the Republican convention (and even fewer blacks), in contrast to previous years. So it was suspicious when on the final night of the convention “Hispanics para Trump” and the “Latinos para Trump” signs popped up everywhere on the convention floor, most of them waved by nonHispanics. That’s a Hispandering moment –  trying to appear more Hispanic-friendly than you really are.

The signs also were incorrect. Not to get too technical but “Hispanic” is not a Spanish-language word. (And besides, it was created in the United States for census purposes.) It should have been “Hispanos.”  Apparently, not enough Latinos around to proofread.

I am not going to quibble, as others have, about whether it should have been “por Trump” or “para Trump.” Irrelevant, at least for me.

Ralph Alvarado

Kentucky State Sen. Ralph Alvarado gave a speech, partly in Spanish (excellent Spanish, too),  reminding Latinos that many have fled dictatorial rule in their homelands for freedom in the United States. It would have been a powerful appeal in any language – for another convention. The words fell flat at a convention in which the presidential candidate has demonized Latinos for over a year and who is threatening to become Strong Man of the United States. Hispandering moment: The Republican Party is not friendly to Latinos this year. Check the irony at the door.

Orlando Sentinel  Nightly Commentary

Monday Night

Who won? Anger and politics as entertainment won the night, as did loose lips and loose facts.

Who lost? The never Trump movement for its inability to rally at the convention to stop Donald Trump from becoming the Republican nominee. The Republican Party for doubling down on portraying undocumented immigrants, notably Hispanics, as criminals. Donald Trump for the shameful exploitation of the justifiable pain and anger of the parents who lost children. Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani for being scary crazy and out of control during his fear-mongering speech. The Republican Party, again, for having so few people of color among its delegates – reportedly only 18 blacks – in a country where nearly half the people are people of color. And the Republican Party one more time for turning a serious political debate-convention into a television reality show with third-rate actors.

Read what other Central Florida 100s had to say:

Tuesday Night

Who won? Donald Trump’s children Donald Jr. and Tiffany did not embarrass themselves or the candidate during prime-time speaking slots, after charges of plagiarism flew against wife Melania for cribbing off a 2008 speech by current first lady Michelle Obama. Paul Ryan managed to barely mention Donald Trump’s name during a speech that emphasized party unity for a party still very much divided.

Who lost? The economy lost Tuesday night, an evening that was supposed to be dedicated to making “America work again.” The slogan didn’t live up to its promise because nobody talked about the economy — how to grow it, how to create jobs, how to steady the lives of the underemployed and unemployed who have been left behind and are huge Donald Trump supporters. Instead, one by one, elected U.S. representatives and senators — who know little about how the economy works — stood before a substantially empty convention hall to talk about government, the very thing Republicans have spent decades badmouthing as ineffective, bloated and out of control. Where’s the plan for the economy? There was none. Because there is no plan, just empty words. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell lost because he was booed both times he came on stage.

Read what other Central Florida 100s had to say:

Wednesday Night

Who won? Former astronaut Eileen Collins dared to speak of science and exploration before a Republican audience that increasingly is anti-science. Ted Cruz enjoyed great applause, gave his 2020 “acceptance speech” four years early and never endorsed Donald Trump. But Trump got his revenge by pushing Cruz offstage with his appearance in the convention hall.

Who lost? It was hard listening to Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi and not think of the Trump University complaints she failed to investigate and the $25,000 donation Bondi solicited from the Trump organization while the complaints were swirling. Bondi lacks credibility, and a whole lot of people know it, including the Twitterverse, which lit up with negative comments. Gov. Rick Scott spoke before Bondi, saying, “It’s time for all Americans to put down the partisan banners,” even as speaker after speaker has spent the week unfurling the flag of derision and division. Marco Rubio was too cowardly to appear at the convention in person, and too cowardly to skip it altogether, preserving his spot for 2020.

Read what other Central Florida 100s had to say:

Thursday Night

Who won? John Kasich for remaining true to his word and being a complete no-show at the Republican convention that took place in his very own state of Ohio and which may take the GOP years to overcome.

Who lost? Following a night during which the Republican Party attempted to showcase some diversity – blacks, women, gay and Asian speakers – Donald Trump took the stage on the final night of the convention and continued trampling the truth about the hot-button issues of immigration, the primary vote total, chaos in the streets, crime, Iran, Syrian refugees, Clinton‘s email server and more, a raw appeal to mostly non-Hispanic whites, indicating that the earlier display of diversity was all cosmetic. It is 1968, and Richard Nixon‘s law-and-order mantra all over again. The code-talker used words like rigged, crime, race, Islamic terrorism, sanctuary cities, great border wall and voiceless people, a throwback to Nixon’s silent majority. “Things have to change and they have to change right now,” the strong man said, underscoring people’s fears and frustrations. To his credit, Trump didn’t repeat the chant “Lock her up!” But he and other nattering nabobs of negativism and doom and gloom certainly led the crowd there all week long. Trump simply dropped the balloons on it.

Quote of the day “I have nothing negative to say about Hillary. I have only amazing things to say about Donald.” — Tom Barrack, deputy interior undersecretary, Reagan administration. Imagine if Donald Trump’s team had followed Barrack’s advice from the outset. They might have made a stronger case for Trump. Barrack also did the best job of humanizing Trump.

Read what other Central Florida 100s had to say:

˜˜Maria Padilla, Editor

Few Latinos at the Republican Convention

GOP conv. logo

As the curtan is about to rise on one of the most anticipated Republican national conventions in a long while,  one of the questions that begs an answer is, will there be Latino participation and, if so, what will that look like?

The last Republican to win the White House – George W. Bush in 2000 – brought Mariachi music to the convention, held that year in Philadelphia where the Democrats will meet this year. It was a hamhanded, although apparently sincere attempt, at Hispanic outreach that was preceded by a “Change the Tone” whistle stop tour of California during which Bush focused on racial inclusion and even spoke some Spanish.

In truth, there weren’t many prominent Latinos with speaking slots in 2000, except for George P. Bush, son of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, whose wife Columba is Mexican.

Still, that year, Bush earned 34 percent of the Hispanic vote, according to Pew Hispanic Center. Four years later, he did even better, grabbing a 40 percent-share of the Latino vote – better than even Ronald Reagan‘s 37 percent in 1984, the year Reagan sought re-election. At the 1984 convention, Katherine Ortega, U.S. Treasurer and  a Latina originally from New Mexico, was the keynote speaker.

The 2004 Republican National Convention didn’t boast Latino speakers, except for Brian Sandoval, then Nevada attorney general and currently the state’s governor and Central Florida’s own Mel Martínez, elected to the U.S. Senate in that year’s November election.

In a fascinating and now supremely ironic twist,  Zell Miller, a conservative Democrat and then Georgia State senator, was the keynote speaker who had lamented earlier,. “I barely recognize my party anymore.”

Mitt Romney, meanwhile, had some prominent Hispanic speakers, including Sandoval, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio (who introduce Romney), New Mexico Gov. Susana Martínez, then Puerto Rico Gov. Luis Fortuño and wife Luce Vela Fortuño, then U.S. Senate candidate Ted Cruz.

Harsher Tone

How things have changed.

Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, takes center stage Monday as one of the most polarizing presidential candidates in modern times. He has spent months during the primary campaign alienating Latino voters, stating for instance that Mexicans are rapists and criminals, and that as president he will build a wall along the border with Mexico and make Mexico pay for it, among other things.

Having thus offended not only Mexicans but Hispanics in general as well as others, what Hispanic stands for Trump?  What Hispanic is scheduled to speak at the convention or has been asked to speak at the convention? Bear in mind that Trump esentially has ceded the Latino vote to Democrat Hillary Clinton, who polls show has an over 40-point lead among Hispanics versus Trump, according to a Pew Research Center poll.

The Republican National Committee finalized its convention plan today, Sunday. Combing through it, the first Latino and a Monday night prime time speaker is Mary Ann Mendoza, the mother of an Arizona police officer Brandon Mendoza who died in a crash involving a a drunk driver who was undocumented. She is described as an immigration reform advocate.

Mendoza is part of a night entitled  “Make America Safe Again,” which includes two other moms whose children were killed in an accident involving an undocumented immigrant or allegedly murdered by an undocumented immigrant. Their pain is real. However,  Trump appears to be  doubling down on the trope of Mexicans as criminals. 

Tuesday Night

There are no Latino speakers scheduled for Tuesday night whose theme is “Make America Work Again,” which is odd considering that Hispanics make up 16 percent of the U.S. labor pool or about one of every six workers,. The figure is higher in certain industries such as construction. Hispanic labor force participation is expected to rise to about 20 percent or one of every five workers in 2020, just four years from now, according to the Department of Labor.

Wednesday Night

This night of the Republican convention, or “Make America First Again,” showcases prominent Hispanics and former presidential primary rivals Florida Sen. Marco Rubio via satélite – after he said he wouldn’t appear at all –and  Ted Cruz.

Thursday Night

The final night of the Republican convention, “Make America One Again,” would seem an ideal night to demonstrate some measure of inclusiveness. There are no Latinos scheduled to speak.

Note: Donald Trump’s children – Ivanka, Eric, Tiffany, Donald Jr., as well as his wife Melania – have primetime  speaking slots.

˜˜Maria Padilla, Editor

Donald Trump Thinks He ‘Won the Hispanics’

Trump 2
Donald Trump said he “won the Hispanics” after the Indiana primary. / photo

In Donald Trump‘s fact-challenged world, he “won the Hispanics,” he said after winning the Indiana presidential preference primary this week.

But now that he has cleared the Republican primary field, what chance does Trump really  have to win Hispanic votes in November’s general election?

It is going to be difícil or difficult.

Trump’s negative rating is 77 percent among Latinos, according to a national Gallup poll. In Florida, Hispanics are even more sour on the New York businessman, with 87 percent viewing Trump unfavorably, compared with 42 percent for Hillary Clinton.

So it seems Trump would have to do some serious fence mending and it would have to be a “huge” effort. Even so, he   still may not make it because most Hispanics lean Democrat and an increasing number are independent. Trump needs about 40 percent of the national Hispanic vote – to say nothing of the Latino vote in a swing state like Florida – to win the keys to the White House. And that’s a Republican Party estimate.

In his speech after  the Indiana primary, Trump said nothing – nada – about “building that big beautiful wall” along the U.S.-Mexico border which he has used as bait to attract an anti-immigrant vote. As if to wipe the slate clean.

But Hispanics remember. After all, Trump made disparaging remarks about Mexicans during his very first outing to announce his presidential candidacy.

Here in Florida, about 57 percent of the state’s foreign born are Latinos, according to the census. More than half of these are citizens and can cast a ballot in November.

News stories from the West Coast and other places state that Latino immigrants are  becoming citizens in order to vote this year. It’s a deja vu of the mid 1990s when California Gov. Pete Wilson launched a tirade against immigrants that effectively turned the state blue. California has elected only one Republican governor since then – Arnold Schwarzenegger.

No, Donald Trump hasn’t “won the Hispanics.” That’s a wall that even he may not be able to scale.

˜˜Maria Padilla, Editor