Bettina Inclan-Agen has devoted her career to Republican politics. She is the daughter of a Cuban mother and a Mexican father, and this time four years ago she was overseeing the Republican National Committee’s outreach to Hispanic voters.
of influential Latino Republicans have firmly ruled out supporting their party’s presumptive nominee.
“I think Donald Trump will be a train wreck for America. I have no respect for him,” said megadonor Felix Sabates.
Referencing his two young daughters, Rep. Carlos Curbelo of Florida remarked, “I could never look them in the eye and tell them that I support someone so crass and insulting and offensive.”
Some go even further. Wealthy Latino GOP donor Mike Fernandez offered to support Trump “when hell freezes over.”
“Oh, no, but is that not where he resides?” he added.
Conservative activist Lauro Garza regularly describes Trump as an operative of white supremacist groups.
Still others have adopted what might be described as quasi-nonendorsements.
“I will vote for him,” said Rep. Bill Flores of Texas, “but in terms of getting my endorsement, I don’t endorse people that bash a judge based on his ethnic heritage.”
When asked merely to clarify whether former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has publicly backed Trump’s campaign, a Gonzales aide told HuffPost, “He has no position.”
The majority of these conservative Latinos hold out hope that Trump’s campaign might eventually shift its tone and tactics.
“I feel there are some very valid aspects to his candidacy,” New York Assemblyman Pete Lopez said. “However, I am concerned about his conduct and his demeanor. I would say to him: ‘self-discipline, self-control need to be a part of engaging meaningfully in this arena, and you can show strength but you don’t need to be diminishing people as you do.’”
Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes released a statement in May lauding the jurists who Trump said he would consider appointing to the Supreme Court. But an aide to Reyes, Alan Crooks, told HuffPost the statement should not be mistaken for an endorsement: “The Attorney General believes that the Republican positions are very important to the Latino community, but he needs to feel more comfortable in order to endorse Trump, which puts him in a difficult position.”
Also, he said, Reyes “would have liked to have seen a Latino” on Trump’s list of potential Supreme Court list nominees.
Trump is having a maddening effect of turning solid red states purple. Areas that should not have gone in that direction for the next 30 years, he’s managed to do in about four months.
Several Latino Republicans consider Trump the lesser of two evils.
“I’ll take a gamble voting for Trump, as opposed to the crook, Hillary, and her Wall Street paymasters,” conservative activist Jason Mattera said.
“I do not like all of Mr. Trump’s ideas,” added Carlos Perez, a Florida radio host and former Reagan aide who likened Trump to Cuban dictator Fidel Castro. “He has to calm down his temper. However, in comparison with Hillary, there is no comparison.”
Indeed, some of the sharpest critiques of Trump have come from prominent Latinos who are now supporting him. This includes GOP ad-man Alex Castellanos, who earlier dubbed Trump a “strongman” who is “not a Republican or a conservative,” but is now overseeing a pro-Trump super PAC; Idaho congressman Raul Labrador, who has called Trump’s rhetoric “morally abhorrent”; and New Mexico Lt. Gov. John Sanchez, who said he will be supporting the Republican nominee despite his “inaccurate and really divisive” statements.
Their conversions may be a source of optimism for Trump’s camp, a sign that leading Latino Republicans might come around in the end despite their displeasure with his campaign.
But the shift can also happen in reverse, as demonstrated by Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval, who initially endorsed Trump before backing off earlier this month. “I will not defend the indefensible,” he said in a statement.
Current Trump skeptics said time is running out for him to make changes.
“We were waiting to see if Donald Trump would tone down the rhetoric, if he would be more inclusive, if he would bring in women and Latinos to higher-level capacities in strategy, media-buying, communications, political outreach within his campaign organization,” Sanchez said.
“Right now, the Latino conservative business leaders I speak with are willing to be convinced, they are open-minded, they are waiting for that engraved invitation to be part of a larger campaign. At every turn the Trump effort is silent,” she added.
Like several others, Sanchez pointed to July’s Republican convention as a singular opportunity for Trump to course correct.
“We’re at the very end of the rope of waiting to see that Donald Trump will do the right thing,” she said. “Increasingly I am fearful that’s not going to happen.”
In the meantime, preserving the GOP’s Senate majority and winning other down-ballot races have become top priorities. So is coming to terms with the prospect of sitting out a presidential race.
“My grandfather was a political prisoner in Cuba,” Inclan-Agen told HuffPost. “From my first memory, I recall him talking about how great America is; how in this country we have the right to vote; how my family was exiled from their country and they didn’t have any political power; how they didn’t have this right to vote. The thought of not exercising that power is chilling to me.”
Editor’s note: Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims — 1.6 billion members of an entire religion — from entering the U.S.
— This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.