Latin Post presents "Turnout," a series that features leading politicians, government leaders and advocacy groups discussing and debating the most important issues facing the Latino voting bloc.

Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz, R-Texas, has seen his polling numbers rise in the critical swing state of Iowa, and U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (USHCC) President and CEO Javier Palomarez tributes the Texas senator's surge to three characteristics that Donald Trump and Ben Carson are lacking.

Palomarez told Latin Post that Cruz, Carson and Trump have a "shared brand of conservatism," which has attracted the support from the most active segment of the Republican Party -- the Tea Party conservatives. But unlike Carson and Trump, as Palomarez acknowledged, Cruz has been delivering his conservative message, for years, through his work in the U.S. Senate.

"I think he portrays a sense of sincerity and authenticity and knowledge that is frankly lacking in the case of Carson and Trump," said Palomarez, later adding that Cruz's message is complemented by actual political experience, which Carson and Trump don't have.

For the USHCC, Palomarez has conducted "Q&A" sessions with several presidential candidates including Democratic presidential candidates Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton and Martin O'Malley and fellow Republican candidates Jeb Bush and John Kasich. Cruz, however, has the distinction as the first 2016 presidential candidate to be interviewed by the USHCC CEO and president.

During the "Q&A" sessions, through statements and reports, Palomarez has said immigration reform is an "economic imperative." Cruz, however, has been critical on the approach to pass immigration reform. While a Gallup poll found most Latinos favor a pathway to citizenship for immigrants who have arrived in the U.S. illegally, Cruz has been consistent on encouraging legal immigration. During the fourth GOP presidential debate, Cruz acknowledged that immigration is "a very personal economic issue."

"When it comes to immigration, he's all for legal immigration. Cruz's father's background also informs his view on legal immigration," Palomarez said. "Cruz, I think, uniquely understands the plight of immigrants in a very personal way, that appreciates the value that they can add to our communities and I think he welcomes and celebrates legal immigration that benefits Americans and provides an economic boom to this country."

Palomarez spoke about how Cruz's upbringing may have influenced the senator's stance for legal immigration. The USHCC president mentioned that Cruz's father fled Cuba after being imprisoned and tortured and sought the American Dream. He added, "[Ted Cruz] like so many of us is the child of those who wish everything for freedom, leaving behind everything that they owned, everything that they had."

"It's not a matter whether I agree or disagree. It's really trying to understand who is this man who could be the presumptive delegate or nominee on behalf of the Republican Party and what is it that makes him think, how does he see the world and how do we (the USHCC) -- as an association of 4.1 million Hispanic businesses that contribute $661 billion to the American economy -- come to grips with his views and how can we, as best as we can, get as much and collaborate as much as we can with him as we do with all of the potential candidates," Palomarez said.

One consistent message Palomarez has told the presidential candidates is the importance of the Latino electorate. Palomarez told Latin Post that if a candidate does not receive 47 percent of the Latino vote, "None of these people will see the White House."

"The reality of it is they got to figure out where and how they're going to engage America's dynamic Hispanic vote," Palomarez said. "I've made, also, the point that every 30 seconds a Latino turns 18 [years old] in this country, and becomes an eligible voter," which results to over 50,000 new voters every month, "and that's going to be the case for the next 21 years in row."

According to Palomarez, the Latino vote "is going to be the proverbial gatekeeper to the White House," and many presidential candidates are becoming aware of that fact. And he said candidates who have made anti-Latino remarks are "coming to grips with the fact that they're going to have to step it back."

Palomarez said Latinos, and overall Americans, need to comprehend there is a broad array of issues, even outside of immigration and immigration reform, that the next president will have to grapple with, ranging from jobs, economy, race relations and national security. But Latinos also have their own share of responsibilities. Palomarez said the Latino community has to educate themselves about the candidates, what they really stand for and what direction they want to take country.


For the latest updates, follow Latin Post's Politics Editor Michael Oleaga on Twitter: @EditorMikeO or contact via email: