Thu | Oct 22, 2020

Trump aims to court pivotal Latino voters

Published:Monday | September 14, 2020 | 12:10 AM
President Donald Trump participates in a Latinos for Trump Coalition round-table at Treasure Island Hotel & Casino, Sunday, September 13, 2020, in Las Vegas.
President Donald Trump participates in a Latinos for Trump Coalition round-table at Treasure Island Hotel & Casino, Sunday, September 13, 2020, in Las Vegas.

LAS VEGAS (AP):

President Donald Trump on Sunday aimed for further inroads with Latinos who could prove vital in closely contested states that could determine the White House race, promoting economic gains these voters made before the coronavirus pandemic.

Though Trump has made scores of inflammatory and derogatory comments about Latinos, his campaign is growing confident that he has won some support that could help in Florida, Arizona and Nevada, his target this weekend.

The president scheduled a round-table discussion with Latinos in Las Vegas on Sunday and planned to host a similar event in Arizona today (Monday, September 14).

But it has been an uphill climb for Trump, whose hard-line immigration policies and sometimes virulent depiction of immigrants have alienated many Latinos.

In the first moments of his 2016 campaign, he declared that many Mexican immigrants were “rapists”. He has drawn criticism for his tepid response to a hurricane that ravaged Puerto Rico, his polices to separate children from their families at the US-Mexico border, and his efforts to dismantle an Obama-era programme that allows young immigrants living in the country illegally who were brought here as children to remain in the US.

DEMOCRATS CONCERNED

There is increasing concern about Democrats that their nominee, former Vice-President Joe Biden, has not done enough to court Latino voters.

His running mate, California Sen Kamala Harris, did little to sway Florida’s booming and politically influential Latino population during a stop there this past week. Biden has not set foot in Arizona or Nevada during the general election campaign.

“Sleepy Joe Biden has spent 47 years in politics being terrible to Hispanics. Now he is relying on Castro lover Bernie Sanders to help him out,” Trump tweeted Sunday. “That won’t work!”

Sanders, a Vermont senator who ran against Biden in the primary but later endorsed his rival, took heat earlier this year for a television interview in which he lauded Fidel Castro for a literacy programme and asserted that it was “unfair to simply say everything is bad” in Cuba.

Estimates from the Pew Research Center and AP VoteCast show that about 3 in 10 Latino voters supported Trump in 2016 and Republican candidates in 2018. That’s also consistent with long-term trends in party identification among Latino voters, according to Pew.

Like Arizona and Nevada, Florida has a heterogeneous population but Hispanic voters there tend to be somewhat more Republican-leaning than Hispanic voters nationwide because of the state’s Cuban-American population. A recent Florida poll shows support from Latinos about even between Trump and Biden.

After Nevada, Trump planned to visit California on Monday for a briefing on the devastating wildfires racing through the region. He has largely been silent on the blazes.