GOP Latinos who left Trump unlikely to pay price

GOP Latinos who left Trump unlikely to pay price
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Latino Republicans withdrawing their support for Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpFormer Watergate prosecutor: Trump taking the fifth would be political suicide Comey: I’m ‘embarrassed and ashamed’ by Republican party Comey, Anderson Cooper clash over whether memo release violated FBI rules MORE are unlikely to have a significant impact on the party or the campaign, say both pundits and Trump surrogates — but they disagree as to why.

Trump’s hardline comments during his immigration policy speech in Arizona — including saying he would begin deporting undocumented immigrants “within the hour” of becoming president — ruffled feathers. Some Latino leaders withdrew support for the nominee, including members of his National Hispanic Advisory Council.

But for those Latino Republicans, negative consequences within the GOP are unlikely, said media and political analyst Víctor Landa. 

“They gave him a second chance and he blew it right away, but the Republican Party is in such disarray right now that these Latino Republicans are going to be needed,” said Landa. 

“At this point I doubt that Trump is going to win, so as soon as the election comes and goes, it’s going to be about rebuilding the Republican Party. There aren’t a lot of Latino Republicans at that [higher] level, and the few that there are will be needed. If they have egg on their face right now I don’t think it’s going to last long because they really are going to be needed once the party starts rebuilding, and that’s going to start happening right away [after Nov. 8],” Landa told The Hill. 

Trump surrogate Sergio de la Peña, a retired Army colonel, said it’s a minor blip in a campaign that is focused on economic issues.

“That’s their call [to withdraw support], but at the end of the day, it’s about the rule of law. Trump is not anti-Latino, he is anti-illegal immigration. You can’t just come into the country without legal status, especially with all the generous social benefits the U.S. has. If you do that, you’re going to increase the debt even further. When you get into the emotional side [of the debate on immigration], you lose sight of what the facts truly are,” said de la Peña. 

“You’ll be surprised that there will be a lot of Latinos voting for Trump because of his economic message. If we don’t follow the rule of law as we were once admired for doing so, we will have no nation because when you go broke you can’t defend yourself. Right now it’s about who has the best capacity to deal with the country’s economic situation, and that is Trump,” he said.   

“[The ones who left] are a small minority of Republicans compared to those who are still on board,” said Republican consultant Ken Oliver-Méndez, president of MRC Latino at the Media Research Center, a conservative watchdog group. “He has brought in millions of new voters — including disaffected Democrats — into the Republican Party to vote for him.”

Alfonso Aguilar, a former Bush administration official and one of the more prominent Latino Republicans who backed Trump and withdrew support after the Arizona speech, did not return requests for comment. 

Other Latino Republicans who withdrew support for Trump were similarly unavailable. 

“I don’t want to seem like I’m gloating, but I hope it certainly serves as a learning process for those Latino operatives that we need to be cautious. We need to believe but verify that the politicians who want to use Latinos to promote their messaging and candidacy are actually held to a high standard. Otherwise the Latino community will continue to be disrespected and that doesn’t help anyone,” said Luis Alvarado, a Republican consultant in Los Angeles who has never supported a Trump presidential bid. 

“It’s a learning experience for Latinos to see how easy it is to be misused for political purposes. It’s upsetting to see that Donald Trump could not be trusted. I had called my friends [who supported him] naïve, and unfortunately that became a reality. Trump was using them as a crutch and a tool.”