Some GOP Latinos have had enough of Donald Trump.
A growing number of Latino activists who vote Republican are pushing back against Trump and warning all other Republican candidates to dial back the hateful anti-immigration rhetoric or risk losing Hispanic support in 2016.
“Foolishly, some candidates think they don’t need the Hispanic vote in the primary, so they pander to the voters with extreme views,” said Rosario Marin, a former Treasurer under former President George W. Bush. “Heed our warning: don’t expect us to come to your side during the general election. If you are not with us now, well will not be with you then.”
Marin is not alone. Dozens of heavy-hitting Latino conservatives gathered in Colorado this week for meetings ahead of the third Republican debate to discuss the candidates’ stances on immigration.
The group was particularly critical of Trump.
“If Trump is the GOP candidate, we are not going to support him,” said Alfonso Aguilar, director of the conservative think tank American Principles Project’s Latino Partnership. “We are are not going to work with his campaign, and he’s not going to get the support of Latino voters.”
And the same goes for any other Republican candidate who adopts a similar stance, he said.
“We are issuing a warning to all the other (Republican) candidates: don’t embrace Trump’s path,” Aguilar stressed. “Don’t applaud him. It’s a shot across the bow warning to the other candidates.”
Still, Aguilar says it’s not too late for his Republican party to win Hispanic voters, and Trump’s presence in the candidate pool doesn’t automatically mean all Latino voters will decamp to the Democratic Party.
“It’s condescending to Latinos to say that all Republicans are like Donald Trump,” he said. “The Democrats are being very naive assuming they have a hold on the Latino vote. There are many Republican candidates who are very good on immigration. I believe a Marco Rubio or Jeb Bush would certainly be able to overcome this toxic environment.”