House Hispanics call on Ryan to withdraw Trump endorsement

House Hispanics call on Ryan to withdraw Trump endorsement
© Greg Nash

Hispanic members of Congress say Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanJuan Williams: GOP in a panic over Mueller House Republicans dismissive of Paul Ryan's take on Trump Amash's critics miss the fact that partisanship is the enemy of compromise MORE (R-Wis.) must either get Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpCNN's Camerota clashes with Trump's immigration head over president's tweet LA Times editorial board labels Trump 'Bigot-in-Chief' Trump complains of 'fake polls' after surveys show him trailing multiple Democratic candidates MORE to apologize for his comments on a federal judge's ethnicity or withdraw his endorsement of Trump for president.

Rep. Filemon Vela (D-Texas) on Friday said Democrats would not change the subject until the comments were fully explained.

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"Speaker Ryan would like to move on to other things like poverty and security just to forget what has happened here in the last two weeks, but that’s not gonna happen. You either support a racist or you don’t," Vela said.

Ryan has repeatedly lambasted Trump's comments as "racist" — a word other Republicans have avoided even while condemning the billionaire's remarks.

Last week, Trump questioned the objectivity of Judge Gonzalo Curiel, a federal judge presiding over a case involving Trump University, the billionaire's embattled business venture. 

"He's a Mexican. We're building a wall between here and Mexico," Trump said, alleging that Curiel would be unable to provide fair judgement in the case. Curiel, whose courtroom is in San Diego, was born in Indiana to Mexican parents.

"You won’t find a more serious jurist. He is a role model for anyone who wants to serve in the legal system," Rep. Juan Vargas (D-Calif.), whose districts straddles California's border with Mexico, said of Curiel.

"It’s time for the Speaker, who’s a good person and a friend of mine, to say to Donald Trump, 'you’ve got to retract your statements,' " added Vargas.

In a press call, Vargas, Vela and Rep. Luis Gutiérrez (D-Ill.) argued the Republican Party's continued support of Trump would ultimately prove beneficial to Democrats.

"Every time [Trump] opens his mouth he digs a deeper hole," Gutiérrez said.

"When you look at citizenship and voter mobilization and registration that’s going on in the Latino community, you have to be pretty excited about the fall election if you’re a Democrat."

Vela said the backlash was so severe that his home state of Texas — staunchly Republican for over two decades — could become a battleground.

"There are many reasonable Republicans, this is a good time for them to come to the right side," said Vela, adding that he "wouldn’t have said this 3 weeks ago."

Republican states with large Hispanic populations, such as Arizona and Texas, could follow the pattern of California, Vargas explained. In 1994, Republican Gov. Pete Wilson supported Proposition 187, an anti-immigration ballot measure that ultimately passed. Wilson was reelected, but the passage of the measure alienated the state's Hispanics from the Republican party.

Proposition 187 "really caused a tsunami of change in California because you used to have a whole bunch of Latinos who voted Republican," Vargas said. "Now ... you can’t elect a Republican statewide to save your life."