Kasich's misguided Latino outreach
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Who knew that Latino outreach was so inexpensive? Earlier this month, GOP 2016 hopeful John Kasich explained to an audience at a Southern California country club how he would connect with Hispanic voters: "I look at our friends in the Latino community as people that ought to be voting Republican. ... They are great, caring, hardworking folks. And a lot of them do jobs that, that they're willing to do,” the Ohio governor said. "That's why in the hotel you leave a little tip, you know?"


Probably the kindest thing that can be said here is that Kasich meant well. Although he was trying to convince his conservative audience to value Latinos, he ended up inadvertently revealing that he sees us as little more than housekeepers. That's an awfully myopic view for someone who has visions of leading the country.

Kasich should realize that Latinos do not appreciate being stereotyped, even if the intention is to be complimentary. Commenting on the worth of Latinos by praising their cleaning skills is akin to telling an African-American person that they are "articulate," or praising an Asian-American for being a member of a "model minority." Just ask Kelly Osbourne, now infamous for her clumsy attempt to criticize the current Republican frontrunner. "If you kick every Latino out of this country, then who is going to be cleaning your toilet, Donald Trump?" she asked on the TV show "The View." Amid a storm of criticism, Osbourne apologized.

Kasich did attempt to clarify his comments about Latinos on "Meet the Press." After stating that Latinos are a critical part of the U.S., he said, "They're God-fearing and they're hard working. And that means that they hold very important positions. I've got a friend right now who's a doctor. He's a doctor in oncology, you know. I mean, that shows you how crazy it can get in this business."

Yet the "I have a Hispanic friend" approach is as cliché as it is laughable. Kasich would have done better to simply apologize and move on. Instead he has received ongoing, widespread coverage in Hispanic and Spanish-language media for his misguided remarks. This is unfortunate, considering that for many Latinos, this was likely the first they have heard of Kasich at all. 

Then again, Kasich is no stranger to odd pronouncements. In August, he told a group of educators that he would abolish all teachers' lounges if he could. In 2011, he went on a rant against an Ohio police officer, calling him "an idiot" three times for doing his job and giving him a speeding ticket. His 2010 campaign for governor was renowned for its gaffes (his spokesman mocked then-Gov. Ted Strickland's [D] rural roots by saying he was raised in "a chicken shack on Duck Run"). During that race, Kasich expressed support for ending birthright citizenship.

True, there is no shame in working as a maid and Latinas are well represented in this profession (Latinas also earn half of what white men do). But Kasich's remarks suggest that his only interaction with Latinos is with the people who clean his bathroom. At a time when a Latina sits on the Supreme Court, and Latinos are CEOs and Pulitzer Prize winners, Kasich seems dangerously out of touch with an increasingly diverse America. Even worse, this controversy overshadows the fact that Kasich is fairly moderate on immigration, and favors a path to legal status for the undocumented.

Kasich's remarks about Latinos were at best tone-deaf and at worst condescending. Here's hoping he works on his own Latino outreach before he attempts to offer advice to others on how to reach our community.

Reyes is an attorney and columnist in New York City. He is also an NBCNews.com contributor.