For the first time ever, the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce has endorsed a presidential candidate: Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. Chamber President and CEO Javier Palomarez announced the endorsement on the sidelines of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.
Donald Trump represents "the antithesis of American values," Palomarez said in a statement to Univision. "We cannot stand silently in the face of a campaign that is intent on dividing our country."
The 38-year-old institution, which represents more than 4 million Latino-run businesses generating $661 billion in economic activity each year, have previously stuck to a policy of electoral neutrality. Earlier in the year, it endorsed Clinton and Ohio Governor John Kasich in the primaries and Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro for vice president.
"We have seen a candidate who has openly mocked and marginalized women, Hispanics, veterans, African-Americans, Muslims and the disabled, while turning a blind eye and a deaf ear to the dangerous undercurrents of antisemitism and homophobia emanating from his campaign and his followers," said Palomarez.
While Trump supporters celebrated clinching the Republican nomination in Cleveland Tuesday, the Republican governor of the host state was absent from the convention, choosing instead to meet with the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in Cleveland.
John Kasich, a former presidential candidate who clashed with Trump during the campaign, was invited to participate in a talk with Palomarez Tuesday. The governor, who has so far declined to endorse Trump, didn't miss the opportunity to send a thinly veiled message to the GOP nominee.
"The Republican Party has to be a party that strives for dialogue. If you don't send a message of opportunity to African Americans, Hispanics, women, you'll have a hard time winning national elections," Kasich said.
Trump and his campaign criticized Kasich’s decision to not attend the convention. Paul Manafort, Trump's campaign manager, said Monday that it is "an embarrassment to his state.”