Trump Comments Burden GOP Relations With Latino Voters
DAVID GREENE, HOST:
The storm continues over Donald Trump's calls for a federal judge to recuse himself from a case involving Trump University. Trump said the judge's Mexican heritage meant he was biased because of the presumptive Republican nominee's plans to build a wall along the Mexican border. Republicans already faced a deficit with Latino voters before this latest incident.
RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:
And in a moment, we'll hear from a pledged California delegate for Donald Trump. Let's go now to Colorado Public Radio's Rachel Estabrook, who went out on the street in that important swing state to get reaction from Latino voters.
RACHEL ESTABROOK, BYLINE: Outside of a grocery store in the diverse city of Aurora, just east of Denver, shoppers had plenty to say about Donald Trump.
ILSE GUILLEN: I cannot have somebody leading us like that - just so racist and stuff.
PAULY QUINTANA: I'm planning to vote for Clinton.
FREDDY PEREZ: I'm anti-Donald Trump
ESTABROOK: Ilse Guillen (ph), Pauly Quintana (ph) and Freddy Perez (ph) each disliked Trump before his comments last week. But for Guillen, the judge stuff didn't help.
GUILLEN: My dad's Cuban, and my mom's Mexican, so I take that offensive - really offensive.
ESTABROOK: Like Guillen, three-quarters of Colorado's Latinos voted for President Obama in 2012. Their numbers are growing fast. And this year, 1 in 7 voters here is expected to be Latino. To win over that big voting block, Republicans need people like Freddy Perez. He voted for George W. Bush and liked Ted Cruz, but he won't support Trump.
PEREZ: He's trying to make it as racial - as white, Mexican, black - and it's not like that. Everybody comes to America for freedom, to work, to better their life for the future.
ESTABROOK: That doesn't mean Trump's lost all Latinos. Javier Lada (ph) talks to me from the driver's seat of his yellow Jeep Wrangler. Lada believes the judge should recuse himself in the Trump University case, and he thinks Trump's border wall would protect the country.
JAVIER LADA: It's being invaded by people we don't know. This is one nation of rules. We just can't let people in.
ESTABROOK: Lada was born in the U.S. and served in Iraq. He says his relatives walked across the border from Juarez into Texas way back in the 1800s. Multi-generational Hispanics like Lada are generally more conservative than those who arrived recently. And there are more of these multi-generational Hispanics in Colorado than the national average. Annie Falcone (ph) is second-generation Latina, born in the U.S, but she's on the opposite side of Lada ideologically. Sitting with her family near a basketball court on the other side of town, Falcone says she's not surprised by Trump's comments last week.
ANNIE FALCONE: He's very offensive to, like, every group, even to very educated people, such as that judge.
ESTABROOK: She plans to vote for Hillary Clinton. And as her 4-year-old, Ivan (ph), gabs next to her, Falcone says she's trying to convince her boyfriend to vote, too.
FALCONE: I hope he votes so he can make sure Trump doesn't win. Every vote counts.
ESTABROOK: Especially in Colorado, which has voted with the winner of the presidential race every year since 2000. For NPR News, I'm Rachel Estabrook in Denver.
MONTAGNE: And we're joined now by California Republican State Senator Joel Anderson. He represents voters in San Diego County and is a pledged delegate for presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump. Good morning.
JOEL ANDERSON: Good morning.
MONTAGNE: Now we heard there, in Rachel Estabrook's story from Colorado, which is a state like California, with a large and growing Hispanic population - we heard what has been reflected in polls. That is, a lot of Latinos are not impressed with Donald Trump's rhetoric. Is that not a real concern for Republicans?
ANDERSON: Well, I think what it shows is how diverse the Hispanic community is. And you can't just go by what one person says. You have to look at it as a whole. And campaigns - when you do polling, it's a snapshot in time. It's just a picture of, today, where we stand. We're a long way off from November.
MONTAGNE: Although, Donald Trump has put a lot of store into polls. He talks about them a lot, and has in this campaign. I mean, you're saying these polls reflect - do not reflect the true feelings of Hispanics?
ANDERSON: Well, I think the polls are a snapshot in time. A year ago, Donald Trump was tied for 10th place with Pataki. And today, he's our presumptive nominee. So there's ample time in this campaign for things to change and trends to change, as well.
MONTAGNE: Your district sits within a county down in San Diego that is one-third Hispanic. What are you telling those voters, and what are you hearing from voters in your district about Donald Trump?
ANDERSON: Well, I can tell you my district's going to overwhelmingly vote for Donald Trump because people want to get back to work. They want to be fully employed. When you look at the economy, when you look at Central Valley, when you look at what has been allowed to occur in one of the most prosperous states in the United States, it's shameful. And I think that people expect Donald Trump to help turn the ship around and get people back to work so they can feel the pride that only comes from providing for your family. You know, the press can say that he's a racist. They can do all the things that they want to do. But we're tired of being lied to by the press, and we want - we think there's a better future for our children, and we're willing to fight for it. I mean, there's - there's so much more going on than this nonsense about a judge. I mean, look, he deserves a fair trial like every American deserves a fair trial.
MONTAGNE: Certainly Donald Trump deserves a fair trial in this civil suit about his - the Trump University. But Republican Party leaders, including Speaker Paul Ryan, including Senate Leader Mitch McConnell, all pushed back on him for saying that a judge cannot be fair in a case because he is of Mexican descent or, adding to that, a Muslim might not also be able to be fair if it involves Muslims. Is that not the definition of racism - presuming their race or ethnicity or religion overrides everything?
ANDERSON: You know what? I can't speak for Donald Trump on that. You know, I didn't - I don't know the full story of all that. But every American deserves a fair trial. And if somebody's been influenced and they're not listening with fair ears, well, that's a problem. You know, I'm really not interested in an ambush interview.
MONTAGNE: True, but, Senator, every little thing - this is - I mean, this is part of, I think, the appeal - that Donald Trump is very tough and he says what he means. That's what people say a lot. I mean, aren't we just sort of taking him at what he says and what he spends time talking about?
ANDERSON: Look, listen, we've seen story after story from the beginning of ambush interviews looking for the poison dart to kill Donald Trump. You haven't found any in the press, and now you're picking on a senator to try to find something. Look, I see him as a economic engine that's going to help everybody get back to work and be more prosperous. And I think that when people look at Donald Trump overall and they look at Hillary Clinton, they're thinking that they want to go with somebody who's an outside person, who's not going to give the same old rhetoric that everybody in Washington, D.C., gives us.
MONTAGNE: California Republican State Senator Joel Anderson is a pledged delegate for presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump. Thank you very much for joining us.
ANDERSON: My pleasure. Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.