Latinos matter: Donald Trump and Hillary missed huge in first debate?
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Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpFive takeaways from Cruz, O'Rourke's debate showdown Arpaio files libel suit against New York Times IMF's Christine Lagarde delays trip to Middle East MORE kicked off his campaign on the issue of immigration. He said Mexican immigrants were bringing drugs, crime and were, by and large, rapists. His signature stance this entire campaign has been based on the chant: “BUILD THE WALL.” 

With this being the centerpiece of his campaign, last night would have been an opportunity to hold a discussion about our broken immigration system and what exactly he was going to do to fix it, if elected President.

Latinos want to know if he is in fact going to have a deportation force as he mentioned during this campaign. Over 60 percent of American Latino voters have a family member or know someone who is undocumented. Last night was an opportunity lost by not making this issue front and center.

Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonBudowsky: Closing message for Democrats Election Countdown: Dems outraise GOP in final stretch | 2018 midterms already most expensive in history | What to watch in second Cruz-O'Rourke debate | Trump raises 0M for reelection | Why Dems fear Avenatti's approach GOP mocks Clinton after minor vehicle collision outside Mendendez campaign event MORE, who needs Latino voters to show up to the polls on Election Day, also missed a crucial opportunity to engage with them last night.

Clinton’s stance on immigration is much different from Donald Trump’s, and that’s why she is leading him among Latinos in every battleground state poll. But Latinos want details and assurances because we have heard this before: How do you work with a Republican congress to pass a bill to bring over 11 million families out of the shadows? How will you reverse the record-breaking deportations under the current Obama administration that are literally tearing families apart? How will you make this a priority in your first 100 days in office?

But we will not know the answer to these questions, because it was not talked about last night and no one regarded these issues as important enough to pivot toward them.

In recent Latino polling, the issues of jobs, education and healthcare were the top issues amongst Latino voters. And last night, none of these issues were addressed save for a verbal spat over who could negotiate a better trade deal. There was no real discussion on raising the minimum wage, college affordability, the healthcare crises and how to improve on -- or ditch -- Obamacare.

Clinton has a big lead with Latinos, but she has yet to reach numbers mirroring that of President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaGOP group makes late play in Iowa seat once seen as lost Chance the Rapper works as Lyft driver to raise money for Chicago schools Americans are safer from terrorism, but new threats are arising MORE’s support from Latinos. She has many opportunities to get there by Election Day, and luckily for Secretary Clinton, she is running against a guy who is a walking billboard for discrimination. You would think with all this red meat, she’d be doing better? The problem is young Latinos who overwhelmingly voted for Sen Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersFive takeaways from Cruz, O'Rourke's debate showdown Live coverage: Cruz faces O'Rourke in Texas debate showdown Saudi mystery drives wedge between Trump, GOP MORE during the primary. She needs to mobilize these voters, because Bernie’s endorsement alone has not been enough. Last night was a prime opportunity for her to pitch her college affordability plan that looks a lot like Bernie’s plan Young Latinos would have loved to have seen that debate, especially if Trump University had been mentioned somewhere along the way.

Trump has presented a number of disappointments last night as well. Having prepped presidential candidates for debate in the past, it was apparent that Trump was not prepared and lost an opportunity. But all is not lost, only four years ago, President Obama lost his first debate against Romney in 2012 and came back stronger in the next debate.

Trump will never win the majority of the Latino vote. However he does not need to, but he does need to raise his percentage enough to win FL, CO and NV. His tone and his words need to be chosen wisely for the next debate if he wants to have an actual chance at being president, because after last night Hillary is measuring drapes in the Oval Office.

Rocha is the president of Solidarity Strategies, a Latino-owned political consulting firm. Follow him on Twitter @ChuckRocha


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