Ted Cruz Hopes His Cuban-American Roots Resonate Among Latinos in Florida
Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz is hoping his Cuban American roots will pay dividends for him with Hispanics in the upcoming Florida primary.
During a recent campaign event in the state, Miami-Dade County campaign chair Manny Roman described the Texas senator as "the first Hispanic president of the United States."
Cruz and his rival, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., are both sons of Cuban immigrants. Up until now, Cruz has rarely referred to himself as a Hispanic, but with so much at stake in Florida, he is now desperately seeking to remind Latino voters there of his heritage.
"Obviously my family story is an integral part of who I am," he told the crowd. "It is a shared and unifying aspect in the Hispanic community, the immigrant experience, coming to America with nothing."
Cruz Insists Message Resonates With Hispanics
Cruz's campaign has insisted his message of conservatism and economic opportunity soundly resonates with Hispanic voters. And yet, there's no denying the Texas senator at times has found his relationship with that very demographic somewhat strained, given his hard-line stance on immigration.
Cruz recently joined Republican front-runner Donald Trump in advocating that a wall be built along the Mexican border to keep immigrants out. He is also on record in asserting that he would seek to deport all 11 million immigrants now living in the U.S.
Meanwhile, Rubio has also called for more deportations and insisted that all funding for so-called "sanctuary cities" should be eliminated.
The posturing has left Latino Victory Project president Cristobal Alex feeling as if having two Cuban-Americans vying for the highest office in the land represents a "bittersweet" moment for Hispanics.
"On the one hand, we want to celebrate the success of our community in reaching a milestone," he said. "But on the other hand, these are two Latinos who quite frankly have turned their back on their community."
Cruz Still Believes He Can Win Over Latino Voters
Still, Cruz is confident he can do well in Florida among Latino voters, and his campaign recently began airing its message there on Spanish-language TV stations. In addition, his father, Rafael Cruz, has been meeting with pastors across the state.
"I hope to do very, very well in the Hispanic community," said Cruz, who became the first Hispanic candidate to win a presidential nominating battle with his recent victory at the Iowa caucus. He also readily makes note of how well he did among Hispanic voters in his successful 2012 run for the senate.
It's estimated that Florida is home to just over 500,000 Republican Hispanics, most of them residing in nearby Miami-Dade County.
A recent Suffolk University Poll shows Trump besting Rubio in his home state 36 to 27 percent, with Cruz third at 19 percent and Ohio Gov. John Kasich at 8 percent.
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