While Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has insisted that "the Hispanics" love him, he's not feeling it from them at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland this week.
Unlike previous years, many prominent Hispanic Republicans sat out this year's convention.
Only three of 71 primetime RNC speakers are Hispanic: Senators Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, and Kentucky State Senator Ralph Alvarado, Jr. There's not much diversity among delegates, either: a Washington Post analysis found that less than one percent are black, the lowest number in a century.
The 2016 electorate will be the most diverse in U.S. history, according to the Pew research Center. Latinos make up 17.3 percent of the U.S. population and 12 percent of eligible voters.
Plus, Rubio won't even be in Cleveland: he recorded a video that will be aired at the convention while he campaigns for reelection in Florida.
"For many of us, it has been very painful to see the party remain silent as Trump makes his statements against the Latino community," Rosario Marin, a Republican leader in California and a former U.S. treasurer, told Univision News last week. "This time the convention will not be a party, but a funeral."
Republican strategist Ana Navarro told Politico: “We have gone back decades in terms of diversity in this convention." She added: "You are more likely to see an actual dinosaur speaking at the convention, than an actual Hispanic." On Wednesday, Navarro tweeted a photo of herself with fellow Republicans Al Cardenas and Alex Castellanos, labeling it "10% of the Hispanics at Trump Convention."
The convention came under fire from Latino groups for vilifying undocumented immigrants on its opening day. Republican National Committee Hispanic Media Director Helen Aguirre Ferré sought to defend the convention schedule telling reporters that "The focus, more than anything, was that we have laws that have to be observed and we are not observing." Aguirre emailed Univision News a list of six Hispanic speakers invited to the convention, but erroneously included Italian-American actor Antonio Sabato, Jr.
Previous Republican conventions have embraced greater diversity. In 2000 George W. Bush even invited popular Mexican singer Vicente Fernández to sing rancheras on the night he accepted the nomination.
Concern over the Hispanic vote doesn't appear to bother Trump who is the first Republican candidate in recent memory not to bother with the services of a Spanish language media spokesperson.
Many Latinos following the convention see Trump and his delegates as anti-Hispanic, according to a July 19 Latino Decisions poll. Around 77 percent of Hispanics said watching the RNC made them angry, and 71percent said Trump has made the Republican party more hostile to Latinos. Almost 80% said the Republican Party does not respect Hispanics, and more than three-quarters said the GOP is anti-immigrant.
Ruth Guerra, who stepped down last month as head of Hispanic media relations at the RNC, told a meeting in Cleveland this week organized by the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO), that she was disappointed by the lineup of speakers at the convention. “Obviously I would have liked to see a program similar to 2012, when we saw great Hispanic speakers,” Guerra said. “It’s fantastic that we’re going to hear Ted Cruz—he’s a great leader in our party, he’s Hispanic, he’s on the presidential stage, he has so much to offer. But obviously I would want to see more.”
Luis Fortuño, a Republican delegate and former governor of Puerto Rico also told the meeting he was “embarrassed” by some of the statements he had heard. “They do not represent the positions of most Republicans, and most Republicans and Americans value tremendously a special relationship with Mexico,” he added.
Trump is currently struggling to break 20% support among Hispanic registered voters, according to the latest polling. That is down from the 27 percent who voted for Romney in 2012, according to exit polls, which was itself a historic low.
Critics say the party had ignored an autopsy by the Republican National Committee after its 2012 election defeat which highlighted its demographic challenge with minorities. During the 2012 campaign the GOP candidate Mitt Romney notoriously advocated making the lives of immigrants living illegally in the United States more difficult so they would “self-deport.”
Some Republican leaders, led by former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, have expressed concern the party’s outreach to Hispanics. Bush, who speaks Spanish and is married to a Mexican, dropped out of the race after a poor showing in South Carolina and has publicly lamented the tone of other candidates, especially Trump, over Hispanic immigration.
But it’s not all bad news for Trump. He does better (30 percent) among Hispanic men, according to a recent poll by the Pew Research Center.
Among the smaller group of Hispanic voters (43 percent) who are are more proficient in English than Spanish, just 48 percent back Clinton, while 41percent would vote for Trump.
However, Clinton holds an 80 percent-11 percent lead among Hispanic voters who are bilingual or Spanish-dominant, who make up about 57 percent of all Latino registered voters.