DNC Director of Hispanic Media Says GOP Candidates' Lack of Support For Immigrants Is 'Offensive' to Latinos
Latin Post presents "Turnout," a series that features leading Latino politicians, government leaders and advocacy groups discussing and debating the most important issues facing the Latino voting bloc.
Listen to the "Turnout" Podcast with the Democratic National Committee's Director of Hispanic Media Pablo Manriquez:
With the U.S. Latino population steadily increasing, they have become a necessary electorate for political parties to draw. While Latinos have been stereotyped to be liberal or Democratic, the Democratic Party is still making the effort to work for their vote.
The Democratic National Committee (DNC) continued to cement its outreach with the addition of Pablo Manriquez last April as their Director of Hispanic Media, tasking him to coordinate the Hispanic media component of the Democrats' election campaign.
Why the need for a Director of Hispanic Media?
"Over the last several years, the rise of Hispanics within news organizations and the rise of Hispanic news organizations creates a lot of opportunities that didn't really exist before," said Manriquez. "Having a dedicated in-house professional media coordinator for these types of constituencies is becoming increasingly the norm."
He added, "In this 2016 election campaign, this is going to be of particular importance because the Hispanic component is important. ... It's very difficult to talk about the 2016 presidential race without talking the Latino vote."
Manriquez said the 2016 election will be about the issues and the Democratic and Republican outreach will differ.
"One of the things you're going to see, especially in the Hispanic component of the 2016 campaign, is a divergence between one party -- The Democrats, who are both aligned with and informed by Hispanic political values [and] on the other side -- the Republicans, who are unaligned with and trying to inform non-Hispanic political values to Hispanic voters," said Manriquez, noting that the Democratic Party is known for its ground and data gains, which includes knocking on doors, speaking with Latinos of all demographic about the issues and how their candidates factor into those issues and values.
"A lot of it has been exploring where voters are, what issues are important to voters and, then closer to the election, making sure the registered voters are activated on Election Day, getting them right to the polls. ... It's a comprehensive approach."
In regards to the Republican National Committee's (RNC) outreach, Manriquez said, "The RNC is trying new things, unfortunately it doesn't seem like what they are trying is necessarily informed by Hispanics at a high level. ... Whereas [at the DNC], Hispanics have been involved at a high level for a very long time and continue to do so."
While he is aware that plenty have been said about the Republican Party's presidential field including "some new faces," the candidates have not resonated with the Latino electorate on the issues. One example is Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida. Rubio's fluency in Spanish could appeal to voters, but Manriquez reminded where the senator stands on the issues.
"I envision a scenario where Marco Rubio is in Nevada and I'm a Nevada Hispanic voter. I hear a knock on my door, and I open my door and its Marco Rubio. Not only is he Hispanic but he speaks my language and then he tells me 'I want to take away your health insurance, I want to rollback DACA' -- the president's plan to protect immigrant youths," said Manriquez.
"You can tell me these things in the most beautiful Spanish ever said, but I'm not going to vote for you," added Manriquez, reiterating the Republicans are "completely unaligned" with Latinos' political values.
Rubio was a co-sponsor of a bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform bill, "S.744 - Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act," which passed the Senate in 2013. While the House of Representatives, under the leadership of Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, never debated or voted on the legislation, Rubio also distanced himself from the bill.
Manriquez continued, "He ran away from his own bill. He drafted a bill, and he left it to die. In doing so, he demonstrated to immigrants -- not just from across the country but throughout the Americas, this was huge news -- that he was someone who wasn't going to stand on principle for immigrants. He was just going to do what was politically expedient in the moment. It was a mistake on his part."
Another presidential candidate with fluency in Spanish is former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who is married to a Mexican philanthropist. Manriquez, however, noted "a serious liability" regarding Bush's prospects with Latino voters.
"[Bush] doesn't favor a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants in this country. Every single Democratic Party presidential candidate for the 2016 election favors path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants in this country," Manriquez stated. "Jeb Bush doesn't and, granted, it takes a lot of courage to stand up for immigrants -- this is one of the most vulnerable populations in the United States -- they can't vote and Jeb refuses to stand by them and support the normalization of their lives or at least a minimal measure like the president's executive actions -- DACA and DAPA."
Manriquez acknowledged that there is not a single Republican candidate who supports the DACA and DAPA programs, which provides approximately 4.9 million undocumented immigrants a temporary stay in the U.S. pending on requirements from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
"It's shameful and I think it going to cost them dearly in this election, again," said Manriquez about the GOP's lack of support toward immigrants. "None of these [Republican] candidates are willing to stand with immigrants, especially undocumented immigrants, and that is absolutely offensive to the Hispanic political sensibility.
"I think the most telling stat in that regard is that 90 percent of Hispanics in this country favor the president's plan to keep families together [and] 70 percent of Republican Hispanics feel the same way. Unfortunately, this 70 percent of Republican Hispanics ... they don't have a voice at that high level of the Republican Party that decides how they, as a party, will move forward with engaging Hispanics. They are unheard. As a result, every single candidate in the Republican field is not only ignoring Hispanics, generally, but they're ignoring their own Hispanics on this issue."
Manriquez said Republicans have made developments in its engagement efforts but the outreach is not convincing. He added, "They're not compelling at the level of the issues, and the issues are ultimately what the American voter votes on. I don't think you can fool Hispanic voters into being enthusiastic about a candidate who does speak Spanish but wants to deport our parents or wants to take away our health insurance."
Manriquez acknowledged the 4.2 million Latinos who have benefited from the Affordable Care Act since it first implemented provisions in 2010 and stated the law is an "extremely popular policy" among Latinos, but Rubio and the Republican field has railed against it and "out to destroy it from the beginning."
"The bilingual infrastructure developments within the Republican Party are certainly a step forward from, I guess, 'zero' of the 2008 and 2012 election campaigns but they still haven't learned their lessons of actually listening to what Hispanic political values are and reacting accordingly with their own policy messages."
Manriquez also responded to Republican statements that the 2016 presidential Democratic field is a "coronation" for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
"It's an election about the issues. It's not about any particular candidate," Manriquez said. "Obviously a good portion of the Republican Party is now running for president, so that's making it into a cacophony of awkward moments. Every week it seems the Republican Party has another foot-in-mouth moment. ... We have a field that is united on issues of citizenship, healthcare, education, LGBT rights [and] climate."
The DNC's political engagement also includes the millennial population, the largest U.S. generation comprised of Americans born between 1980 and mid-2000s. Recognizing that millennials have more optimism, Manriquez said they are also characterized by connectivity.
"These are some of the most informed voters ever in the sense that they have access to information about the issues that matter to them, access to information that are going to mobilize them as voters," said Mariquez. "I think we're going to see things that's never been done before. I think we're going to see a lot of innovation and I think it's going to be a really exciting election."
For the latest updates, follow Latin Post's Michael Oleaga on Twitter: @EditorMikeO or contact via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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