The evangelical Hispanic vote is up for grabs, Samuel Rodriguez says, but Donald Trump would need to "heal the hurt" of his "inflammatory" statements to gain their support.
Trump, presumptive presidential nominee for the Republican party, continues to make waves with social media provocations, one of the latest being a photo of himself about to eat a taco bowl with the following caption: "Happy Cinco de Mayo! The best taco bowls are made in Trump Tower Grill. I love Hispanics!"
Seen as highly offensive by some and amusing by others, much is now being made of his ability to win over Hispanic votes in the general election. Will he be able to do so in light of not just this recent post but his past inflammatory statements on immigration and border security issues?
And what of the support of Hispanic evangelicals?
An internal survey recently taken of members of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference revealed that Hispanic evangelicals remain undecided. No candidate from either party has a lock on their support and more than one-third of those polled claimed that there is no one who clearly represents them at this point in the race. The respondents also noted that the candidate's policies mattered more to them than rhetoric.
In a statement released last Wednesday, NHCLC President Samuel Rodriguez said that this "tells us that evangelical Hispanics are still making up their minds," and that it "is good news for the remaining candidates who will need their support in a general election, but will have to earn it." Rodriguez also added that it is time for Donald Trump to "put action to his words and attempt to heal the hurt and damage his previous statements have caused."
"To date Donald Trump's comments about immigration have been inflammatory, impractical and unhelpful," Rodriguez said. "Now that he is the presumptive nominee, we call upon him to immediately stop rhetorical commentary he has previously used that discredits groups, including Latino immigrants, and start discussing and offering real, productive solutions for comprehensive immigration reform."
In his Indiana primary victory speech, Donald Trump spoke of making American a "beautiful and loving country."
If indeed he aims to do that, says Rodriguez, "he must personally begin by treating all — black, white, Latino, male and female — as they deserve to be treated. For at the end of the day, every individual is made in the image of God and merits love and respect."
Last September, CNN reported that a whopping 82% of Hispanics viewed Donald Trump unfavorably. Recent polls suggest that little has changed. Just last Thursday the Insquistr reported that because of these high unfavorables with Hispanics, even Washington long-timers like Arizona Senator John S. McCain might not be reelected in what was previously thought to be safe territory for Republicans.
"If Donald Trump is at the top of the ticket, here in Arizona, with over 30 percent of the vote being the Hispanic vote, no doubt that this may be the race of my life," McCain said, in a recording of the event obtained by Politico. "If you listen or watch Hispanic media in the state and in the country, you will see that it is all anti-Trump. The Hispanic community is roused and angry in a way that I've never seen in 30 years."