Guest Host: Tamara Keith

More than 13 million Latinos are expected to vote in 2016, double the number that cast a ballot nearly a decade ago. Much of this growing group is concentrated in key swing states like Nevada, Colorado and Florida. For these reasons, understanding who Latino voters are, the issues important to them and how to get a part of their vote has become high priority for presidential candidates — a strategy that became very clear following the last presidential election, when Hispanics turned out heavily for President Barack Obama. We look at the influence of the Latino vote in 2016.


  • Angela Kelley Executive director, Center for American Progress Action Fund; senior vice president, Center for American Progress
  • David Winston President, Winston Group; Republican strategist; CBS News consultant; adviser to the House and Senate Republican leadership for more than a decade
  • Daniel Garza Executive director, The Libre Initiative
  • Matt Barreto Co-founder and managing partner, Latino Decisions;professor of political science and Chicana/o Studies, UCLA


  • 11:06:54

    MS. TAMARA KEITHThanks for joining us. I'm Tamara Keith of NPR sitting in for Diane Rehm. Diane is out for a voice treatment. After the 2012 presidential campaign, the Republican party put out what was called an autopsy. The party's candidate, Mitt Romney, got just 27 percent of the Latino vote. Compare that to George W. Bush, who, eight years earlier, got 44 percent. One key focus was figuring out how to get Hispanics to vote Republican again.

  • 11:07:21

    MS. TAMARA KEITHAnd that's the focus of our show today, what the GOP is doing to court this growing group of voters and what Democrats are doing to try to keep Latinos on their side. To discuss the increasing influence of the Latino vote, I'm joined in studio by David Winston of The Winston Group, Angela Kelley of the Center For American Progress Action Fund and Daniel Garza of The Libre Initiative. And joining us by phone is Matt Barreto, co-founder and managing partner of Latino Decisions.

  • 11:07:52

    MS. TAMARA KEITHHe's now doing polling work for the Clinton campaign. And, of course, the backdrop for this conversation is some recent remarks or not so recent, at this point, by GOP frontrunner, Donald Trump saying things about Mexican immigrants being rapists and other things that many people found deeply offensive. He's calling for a border wall and the end of birthright citizenship. Of course, other candidates have joined in, Ben Carson suggested using weaponized drones along the border with Mexico.

  • 11:08:29

    MS. TAMARA KEITHAnd several candidates have used the term "anchor babies." Daniel Garza, you're the executive director of the Libra Initiative, which is a conservative group that has a mission of getting more Latinos to vote Republican. What do you make of all this? How does this affect your work?

  • 11:08:50

    MR. DANIEL GARZAWell, our mission, actually, is to advance the principles of economic freedom, whether they vote Republican is their business. Look, it's a narrative or it's a dialogue that is unproductive. I think it takes the country or the political discourse into an area that is very negative, that splits people. It splits Americans. And, you know, as a leader, as someone who is presuming to want to take the reins and govern our country, you don't want to start off that way, by splitting Americans with this kind of rhetoric because it -- to say anchor babies, I think, dehumanizes someone.

  • 11:09:24

    MR. DANIEL GARZAIt is to say that you are lesser than, that somehow you don't deserve the rights and privileges and honors of being an American like everybody else does. You usurped them. And that is -- that's terrible. And then, there's the bad policy that he's proposing that we feel is unrealistic.

  • 11:09:43

    KEITHAnd so is that a frustration to sort of watch that play out, to watch other candidates act out the language?

  • 11:09:49

    GARZAIt is a frustration because, you know, at our organization, what we want to do is advance the principles of economic freedom, which means, you know, free markets, to rein in the power and the size of government, the centralization of power and capital in Washington, D.C. To do that, of course, to drive ideas, you need to appeal to folks. You need to connect with them and you need to relate with them as well. But with this kind of narrative that is being introduced, it actually splits people.

  • 11:10:12

    GARZAIt distances them and justifiably. You know, and then, of course, you know, the policies themselves, that you're going to deport 11 million, that you're going to take away birthright citizenship, that you're going to seize remittances from those hard-working folks who earned this money and want to send it back to their grandmothers and their mothers, it stops your blood. It's not helpful.

  • 11:10:36

    KEITHAnd yet, on some level, the polls would tell us that Donald Trump is performing quite well in the polls. David Winston, do you...

  • 11:10:48

    MR. DAVID WINSTONWell, I wouldn’t say he's performing quite well. I mean, I understand you've got...

  • 11:10:51

    KEITHHe's the best of 17.

  • 11:10:52

    WINSTONYeah, right. Right.

  • 11:10:53

    MS. ANGELA KELLEYThat's quite a lot.

  • 11:10:54

    WINSTONAnd so when you're looking at 17 people, it doesn't take a whole lot to lead at this point. The other thing, too, that I would just encourage in terms of as people are looking to public reaction, particularly as you're looking at reaction to candidates, there's a fundamental difference between consideration and conclusion. And I think what you're watching is -- you're going to watch the Republican electorate and you're going to watch the Democratic electorate go through their candidates, think through what they like, don't like.

  • 11:11:16

    WINSTONBut there's a consideration process. Conclusion is very different. We're not getting to a full vote until, what, February 1, in terms of where we start to actually decide here. So when you look at that Trump percentage, I think a lot of that is just being on TV so much does help your numbers. Now, I think going to the point as people hear more of what he's saying, I think you'll see that that consideration does not turn into conclusion favorable to him.

  • 11:11:41

    KEITHAngela Kelley?

  • 11:11:41

    KELLEYYeah, I mean, there hasn't been any sign yet, like just when you think we've hit rock bottom in terms of how this conversation is just really in the gutter, it goes deeper in the gutter. And while Trump is absolutely at the forefront of that, even if he doesn't get the nomination, none of the other Republican candidates are doing themselves any favors with the Latino community. I mean, you know, just over the weekend, Governor Walker talked about considering a wall with Canada.

  • 11:12:07

    KELLEYOr Chris Christie talked about let's treat undocumented immigrants like Fedex packages and start tracking them. Jeb Bush hasn't done himself any favors, either, by using the term anchor babies and then by trying to clarify that and say, no, I didn't mean Latinos. I meant Asians. So it doesn't leave, frankly, I think, Republicans, you know, anywhere to go in terms of appearing and appealing -- appearing reasonable and appealing to Latino voters.

  • 11:12:31

    KELLEYAnd, look, I don’t often quote Dick Army, but Dick Army said, after the RNC autopsy, after the 2012 election, he said, you can't call somebody ugly and then expect them to go to the prom with you. And that's like, there's a lot of ugliness being smeared towards the Latino community and I just don't know how they wipe away that stain. It's not in pencil. It's in Sharpie.

  • 11:12:52

    KEITHDaniel Garza.

  • 11:12:52

    GARZAI have to push back a little bit on that. I think it's unfair to characterize everybody with that broad brush in the Republican field. Look, public policy, at the end of the day, is meant to lift as many people as possible, the maximum amount of people who can thrive and prosper and there are a lot of folks who are talking about the ideas. They're going to unleash the private sector that is going to reverse the trend of making government more power and reduce the amount of big government programs that I think are taking people out at the kneecaps.

  • 11:13:24

    GARZANow, the rhetoric, I think, has to improve overall. But I think there are -- there have been Republican candidates who have pushed back hard on Donald Trump. Just today, Jeb Bush went after Donald Trump directly. So I think you're starting to see a reaction from the other front.

  • 11:13:41

    KEITHAnd I should've mentioned earlier that we'll be talking your calls and comments and I imagine there will be plenty of them on this topic. The number to call is 1-800-433-8850. That's 1-800-433-8850. You can email us at of join us on Facebook or Twitter. The handle is @drshow. And I want to step back and go back to the beginning a little bit, which is who is the Latino electorate? Who are these voters? How big are they? We say they're influential, they're going to be influential. Just how influential?

  • 11:14:23

    KEITHMatt Barreto, I want to turn to you. You're on the phone and you are a co-founder and managing partner of Latino Decisions, which has been brought on by the Hillary Clinton campaign to do some polling. But you've done extensive polling among Latinos for years. What does this electorate look like and how fast is it growing?

  • 11:14:45

    MR. MATT BARRETOWell, it's a very young electorate at the start. We need to remember that. And that's what's fueling our growth numbers so dramatically. The median age of Latinos in the United States is 28. It's about 16 years younger than the median age for whites, which is about 44. So we have half of our population under the age of 28 and that means those folks are coming into the electorate really in very, very large numbers and will continue to do so.

  • 11:15:11

    MR. MATT BARRETOThis is not just a discussion about 2016, but the same discussion in 2020 and 2024. These folks who are young will be entering the electorate and really bolstering and strengthening the number of Latinos across these states. Not just in the southwest, but across the states, including many battleground states. So we're expecting to see that trend continue. There's been a recent population report by Ruy Teixeira and Bill Frey that has documented this growth and suggested that growth is really being driven by young U.S.-born Latino who are entering the electorate and will continue to grow at a very fast pace for at least the next 20 years.

  • 11:15:50

    MR. MATT BARRETOSo this is something that I think is really exciting. It's really changing American politics, changing the discussions we're having about public policy, about campaign outreach and so it's something that will be a very, very big deal, as I said, not just in Colorado, but also in states like Ohio and North Carolina where there are close to 200,000 Latinos who can be voting this year.

  • 11:16:16

    KEITHAngela Kelley, you guys have also done some work on this.

  • 11:16:20

    KELLEYYeah. I mean, just to echo where Matt is going, which I think is an incredibly important point, the numbers are staggering. We have about 800,000 Latinos a year that are turning 18 and will be eligible to vote. So that's like one Latino every 30 seconds is a new potential voter. And we have almost that number of people naturalizing. In other words, people who are lawful permanent residents, they're naturalizing and are going to be eligible to vote.

  • 11:16:47

    KELLEYSo you've got these two streams of important voters growing in number that are going to paying attention to this threshold issue of immigration. Of course, they're also going to want to talk about minimum wage, paid sick leave, healthcare, the economy generally. Everybody cares about those same issues. But honestly, until the monkey gets off the back of the Republican candidates in how they talk about immigration, I don't see that they're going to be able to engage in that conversation.

  • 11:17:14

    KELLEYI mean, Dan made the point that, you know, look, they're not all crazy. Some of them have valid immigration policy points to make. We haven't heard that yet, honestly. The candidates that haven't talked about treating immigrants like Fedex packages or putting drones at the border have said nothing. And honestly, I think their silence is stunning and speaks loudly to the fact that they're not coming to the defense of the Latino community.

  • 11:17:42

    KELLEYTo the extent they have policies, it's mainly about deportation. It's about more enforcement. Not one of them has said that they would support a path to citizenship, for example, for the 11 million. So I think this is an issue that's going to persist in that they're going to have to grapple with it productively.

  • 11:17:55

    KEITHMore ahead about this threshold issue, whether immigration is something that you have to talk about before you can talk about other issues. More of our conversation with our guests here on "The Diane Rehm Show."

  • 11:20:01

    KEITHWelcome back. I'm Tamara Keith sitting in for Diane Rehm. And we have an email here -- this whole hour is about Latino voters and the Latino electorate -- and we have an email from Marc Ortega that I want to read. He says, Latino is not a group. Anyone who claims to speak for Latinos or to say how Latinos will vote is glossing over the wide diversity of the group. And I -- that is very true. There is huge variety. David Winston, why don't you step in first, or...

  • 11:20:34

    WINSTONNo. I mean, it's not a monolithic group by any stretch. I mean, let's go to an obvious contrast, looking at Florida, where you have the difference between -- you've got Cubans as a major population, who vote dramatically different from, like, in New York, where you've got Puerto Ricans, which are dramatically different. Then you've got Mexicans. Then you've got the differences in terms of South American versus Central America.

  • 11:20:53

    WINSTONSo I think part of the challenge and part of the sort of glossing over that occurs is it's sort of dumping everybody into a single group, when in fact there are a variety of different reasons why people arrive here. There are a variety of different reasons in terms of what they're doing here, location. And so the idea that it's this one thing is a complete misperception of what this group looks like. Groups look like.

  • 11:21:14

    GARZAI would say that's exactly right.

  • 11:21:15

    KEITHYeah, Daniel Garza.

  • 11:21:16

    GARZAI mean, just in 2014 -- in 2012, for example, if you were a Latino male, 33 percent of you voted for Mitt Romney. If you were a Latina female, 22 percent voted for Mitt Romney. If you made over $50,000, 40 percent of you voted for Mitt Romney. So if varies very much. You know, what Matt Barreto was talking about, how young we are. That's exciting, but that's also something to be concerned about. And I'll tell you why. Young people have very low turnout. 72 percent of all voters in 2012 were white. It was 75 percent in 2014. It's going to come back down, right? But, I mean, that variance is striking, when you talk about, you know, the differences in the Latino community to the rest of America. So it's a two-way sword.

  • 11:22:02

    KELLEYYeah, I mean, I...

  • 11:22:03

    KEITHAngela Kelley.

  • 11:22:04

    KELLEYYeah, I agree in the sense that Latino is a little bit of a sloppy shorthand, which my mom from Bolivia likes to point out every time I say it. She's like, no, I'm Bolivian. But I think, in terms of like looking at overall demographic changes and not being able to dissect the, you know, what are probably 20-plus countries that we're talking about, I think we just kind of have to accept a little bit sloppiness, but dig underneath it, the way your guests have -- just thoughtfully have done so. And, I mean, to the point that Dan's making, which is really important, which is about turnout. So almost the equal number of Latinos who voted in 2012, there were almost an equal number of people who were registered to vote, could have voted and didn't vote.

  • 11:22:43

    KELLEYSo we have a problem here, right? We've got 12 million people voting and nearly 12 million people not voting. So this is a community that, I think, hasn't been engaged, that there hasn't been the kind of outreach that needs to happen. And part of it, I think, is cultural sensitivity -- approaching people in a language and in a, with a set of values that they can relate to. But I do believe that that's starting to change. And it is because we've got such a young, big block of voters that it will change.

  • 11:23:13

    KELLEYI mean, the propensity of immigrants to vote, to be naturalized, is higher than Latinos who are born here. So if you've got an immigrant and their kids, they tend to vote at a higher rate, right, than Latinos who were just born here. So -- and that is the greater trend of Latinos who are voting in this country. So I'm optimistic about it. And I know that, you know, initiatives like Dan's, that they're really trying hard to knock on doors, and the same on the Democratic side. So my hope is that, in time, more people will turn out.

  • 11:23:44

    KEITHI want to go to the phones. And Carleton in Cincinnati, Ohio, thanks for joining us.

  • 11:23:51

    CARLETONHi. Thanks for having me. And interesting conversation. I was a --I hope to -- our -- Cincinnati's first candidate -- first Latino to run for City Council around back in 2011, his name is Jason Rivero, still in the state, a member of LUAC. And I do think there's a -- I think there's an issue that the fact that the Republicans have such a kind of toxic discourse when it comes to immigration, it allows the Democratic Party just to be a little bit lazy at times or not really come up with new initiatives, policies, look for new candidates.

  • 11:24:26

    CARLETONBecause I feel like they have a sense that they're going to get, kind of, this Latino vote, as we've been saying, by default. Because look what -- look at all the crazy things that are being said by the other side, so we don't -- we can kind of rest easy. I mean, I just kind of wanted to get your panel's take on that.

  • 11:24:43

    KEITHYeah, I want to turn to Matt Barreto with Latino Decisions and also doing some polling for the Hillary Clinton campaign. Where are Democrats on that?

  • 11:24:52

    BARRETOI think that's a really excellent point that the guest made. I'll give an example from 2010 to really highlight that. In 2010, you had a similar sort of wave of anti-immigrant sentiment and rhetoric coming from some Republican candidates. And two examples of states that are next to each other are Nevada and Arizona, where you had Jan Brewer in Arizona sort of campaigning on SB 1070, the papers please initiative that many people were really coming out against. And then in Nevada, you had Sharron Angle campaigning on a very, very strong anti-immigrant sentiment and campaign ads.

  • 11:25:29

    BARRETOWell, in Nevada, you had Harry Reid, who really stood up very strongly for the immigrant community. He tried to get a cloture vote on the Dream Act in September 2010. He campaigned on the issue. He really leaned in. He did a lot of Spanish language outreach. He did a lot, a lot of campaigning in the Latino community. And he was rewarded with record Latino turnout in 2010, winning almost 90 percent of the vote and seeing the highest turnout we'd seen in a primary.

  • 11:25:58

    BARRETOWell, next door, in Arizona, Terry Goddard was silent on the issue. He didn't really take a position that strongly on SB 1070. He did not campaign against it vigorously. And we saw a much more subdued Latino turnout in Arizona in 2010. They just didn't have that champion fighting for them. So I think that's an important message. And where Democratic candidates have been very, very strong, leaning in on the issue, they have been rewarded. Because it creates such a stark contrast, given the rhetoric that we have today. So I think that's extremely important and we'll be looking for that in 2016.

  • 11:26:33

    KEITHDaniel Garza, you're with the Libre Initiative, which is part of the Koch network. You definitely feel like Democrats have taken Latinos for granted.

  • 11:26:44

    GARZAWithout a doubt. And because of that, I think, that's why Latinos are at the crossroads. They are up for grabs. And let me give you an example, like Matt Barreto just did. In 2012, Barack Obama -- depending on what poll you believe -- got either 70, up to 80 percent of the Latino vote in Colorado. That's up from 59 percent in 2008. So things were getting progressively worse. In Texas, George Bush had received 55 percent, McCain had received 35 percent and Mitt Romney down to 25 percent. Cory Gardner comes in and does a bang-up job of engaging, of connecting, of relating to the Latino community -- went into the community...

  • 11:27:17

    KEITHAnd he is now the senator.

  • 11:27:19

    GARZAHe is now the senator.

  • 11:27:20

    KEITHThe Republican senator.

  • 11:27:21

    GARZAThe Republicans got 45 percent of the vote, where Barack Obama had gotten 80 percent of the vote. You know, so he reversed the trend. That's because Udall was criticized for not doing the outreach. It was all the war on women rhetoric that his campaign was pushing. He got heavily criticized for it by the Latino community in Denver and paid a price.

  • 11:27:40

    KEITHYeah, Dave Winston.

  • 11:27:40

    WINSTONCan I -- I just want to go back to the 2010 example. Because, again, I'm going to suggest that these groups -- it's -- there isn't a monolithic issue. And so, I want to go back to 2010 as an example. John Boehner poses a question, in terms of that election, where are the jobs? And actually that had immense appeal across a variety of groups, right? And what you saw happen, at least at the congressional level, where Republicans got 29 -- in 2008, Republicans got 29 percent of the Hispanic-Latino vote. In 2010, they got 38 percent. It was a 9 percent increase. And part of that was because jobs was something that mattered to the community.

  • 11:28:17

    WINSTONPart of the challenge here is, the Republican Party clearly has this internal fight in terms of what is the immigration policy they want to have. That doesn't mean there aren't other issues that matter but you'd have to make the effort in terms of, let's lay out the jobs issue. Let's lay out the education issue. And so it's not a monolithic issue dynamic either. And there are opportunities there. But those opportunities, if you don't -- again, like what you did with Mitt Romney: let's just run a referendum on the president and not advocate any positions of your own -- you're going to create a situation where you're not talking to people.

  • 11:28:46

    KEITHHmm. I want to read just a little bit of this GOP so-called autopsy report from 2012 and get your thoughts on where things stand on that. Quote, "If Hispanic-Americans perceive that a GOP nominee or candidate does not want them in the United States, they will not pay attention to our next sentence. It does not matter what we say about education, jobs, or the economy, if Hispanics think we do not want them here, they will close their ears to our policies."

  • 11:29:14

    KELLEYYeah, I mean, that's absolutely true. You know, and unfortunately the Republicans had a really clear shot at getting the immigration issue off the table. The Senate passed a comprehensive immigration reform bill in June of 2013, passed with a bipartisan super-majority. And we thought, wow, we're finally having a sober conversation on this issue. Let's get it off the table before the midterm elections. And House Republicans just said no. They walked out of the room. They didn't -- they talked about...

  • 11:29:43

    KEITHDave Winston.

  • 11:29:43

    WINSTONI have to -- House Republicans...

  • 11:29:44

    KELLEY...they didn't introduce….

  • 11:29:45

    WINSTON...passed a bill out of the House, dealing with immigration, and no one actually set up the conference.

  • 11:29:50


  • 11:29:51

    WINSTONThere were two differences of opinion. That requires a conference to work through those. That didn't happen.

  • 11:29:56

    KEITHThere was...

  • 11:29:56

    KELLEYOh, I'm so sorry. There was not anywhere near approaching a comprehensive immigration bill passed by the House of Representatives.

  • 11:30:01

    WINSTONThat's your opinion.

  • 11:30:02

    KELLEYThe only -- no. I, this is -- I follow the issue day in and day out. And the only thing that they could talk about...

  • 11:30:09

    WINSTONWhat was it...

  • 11:30:10

    KELLEY...was an enforcement strategy.

  • 11:30:10

    WINSTONWhat were you unhappy about in terms of the House bill?

  • 11:30:12

    KELLEYThere -- there's nothing but an enforcement bill coming out of the judiciary committee. The only thing that was ever introduced were different aspects of immigration enforcement. Nothing was passed by the House of Representatives. Nothing was engaged by Boehner.

  • 11:30:26

    WINSTONNothing dealing with legal status?

  • 11:30:27

    KELLEYAnd, no, absolutely not.

  • 11:30:29

    WINSTONYes, there was.

  • 11:30:30

    KELLEYSo, I mean, it's unfortunate. The point is that the House Republicans had a chance to take the issue off the table and they didn't. And now we find ourselves in the situation where we're in, where I don't think the Republicans have a chance of having a sober conversation with the Latinos until they deal with immigration.

  • 11:30:46

    KEITHDavid Winston, I feel -- you look like you just want to talk some more.

  • 11:30:49

    WINSTONWell, no, because I -- because part of this is also -- and let me sort of explain where Republicans are in terms of this issue, just so people sort of understand. Ultimately, in terms of the Republican side, there's this fundamental fight going on. Are we a part -- is this a country of immigrants or is this a country of laws? And those are two values that people hold. And what's happening is, on the Republican side, those are bumping in to each other and they're not resolving well, right?

  • 11:31:11

    WINSTONAnd that's the problem for the entire country. It's like, how do you take two values and try to work through making them work together? And I think, when one side tries to assert their value is more important than the other, you're not having the conversation that's needed to get to a resolution.

  • 11:31:25

    KEITHDaniel Garza.

  • 11:31:26

    GARZAThat is true. And I'd be interested to hear Matt Barreto's point of view on this one, because it is about leadership and consensus on this issue. And the one who can show it, it's going to win. It's going to be rewarded with the Latino vote. I mean, are you going to be unrealistic in your positions, like, you know, Donald Trump's policy positions? And even Hillary Clinton has said, I will go beyond Barack Obama on this issue. Wait a minute. Barack Obama has not gotten us to consensus or any kind of sensible reform. And you're going to go beyond him? That's unrealistic too.

  • 11:31:52

    GARZASo I think it's the person who can come to the middle and really effectively drive this issue. I think Democrats actually got punished because of the issue in 2014. Remember, five Democrat senators, incumbents, asked the president to postpone executive action because it wasn't in their political interest at the time. Lundergan Grimes in Kentucky and Landrieu in Louisiana were actually bashing republicans for their former support of amnesty. So I -- look, I think Latinos were turned off in a sense, you know, by this kind of rhetoric on both sides.

  • 11:32:28

    KEITHI'm Tamara Keith of NPR. You're listening to "The Diane Rehm Show." If you'd like to join us, call 1-800-433-8850. Or send an email to Or find us on Facebook or send us a tweet at #drshow. Matt Barreto with Latino Decisions, did you want to weigh-in on that?

  • 11:32:49

    BARRETOYeah. I think, you know, in terms of 2014, all of those Democrats that backed away from the executive action were ones that lost. I mean, they're ones that didn't lean in to the issue. And the places where we saw the absolute lowest Latino turnout or support for Democrats were in places like North Carolina and Arkansas and Louisiana, where you had people backing away. In contrast, when you had people leaning in -- as I said, with Harry Reid in 2010, trying to push a vote on the Dream Act, and others -- that's when Democrats has been rewarded.

  • 11:33:20

    BARRETOWe talked about this issue as a threshold issue. Not only does the Republican autopsy identify that, but we've seen that time and again in polling, that when people feel alienated by the rhetoric of a candidate on the immigration issue -- because you're talking about their family -- they're not going to get with you on almost any other issue. And so whether it's through executive action or whether it's through bipartisan legislation, the candidates have to show some willingness to address that issue to the Latino community.

  • 11:33:54

    BARRETOAnd so when one candidate -- even if it's through executive action, which is not lasting and permanent -- shows the willingness to say I'm going to try to do something to help this community, help your immediate family, people in your immediate family who are without papers, that is rewarded. That is rewarded with loyalty, with votes, et cetera. And people who look like they're obstructing, for whatever excuse they want to use, the appearance to the Latino voters that they look like they're obstructing, and that is what is punished.

  • 11:34:24

    BARRETOI mean, there's just countless polls -- polls out there from all sorts of groups, including Fox News polls -- that suggest that Latino voters are paying attention to that issue and that's how they're evaluating the candidates. Yes, other issues are important. But that's how they're evaluating the candidates because it's such a personal, symbolic issue.

  • 11:34:42

    KEITHAnd is this -- this is not a voting group that can be written off or forgotten.

  • 11:34:48

    WINSTONNo, I mean...

  • 11:34:48


  • 11:34:48're looking at it potentially making up 10, 12 percent of the electorate at this point. So, I mean, it's a significant component of the electorate. But the -- again, I'm going to go back to, immigration isn't just simply the way to win the -- win this group. Again, John McCain couldn't have been more supportive of immigration reform, yet he only got 31 percent of the Hispanic-Latino vote in 2008. In contrast, House Republicans, like I said, in 2010, got 38 percent and actually, in 2014, got 36 percent. And that was sort of dealing with jobs and education.

  • 11:35:21

    WINSTONAnd so part of this -- but having said that, I do want to agree that when you hear things being discussed, like deportation, and what that does to a conversation in terms of a debate within a party, it takes something that is a real, you know, debate about values and makes it a very poisonous discussion at that point.

  • 11:35:38

    KEITHI want to go to one of our callers. George, in Cleveland, Ohio. George, thanks for joining us.

  • 11:35:44

    GEORGEHi. Thanks very much. I'll try to be brief. I, you know, from the moment that there was ever any thought of Trump running -- they said he couldn't do it, he was never serious. And my feeling is every major Republican candidate has either said something negative about any group that wasn't white or been silent about his comments. And I want to know, what do these people think if he actually gets the nomination. It is possible that he could get the nomination. And what would that say about the Republican Party and what would that say about this country? And I'll take my answer off the air.

  • 11:36:25

    KEITHDavid Winston, I -- you're a Republican strategist and I saw you shrug just now.

  • 11:36:30

    WINSTONWell, I don't think he's going to win the nomination. And, like I said, I think this is a temporary mode. But I also think that, look, there are a lot of other candidates who are not -- who are being very positive in terms of their attitudes toward a -- beyond just -- because you're building a majority coalition that's going to take more than just simply the base of the Republican Party. Look at what Jeb Bush is saying. Look at what John Kasich is saying. Look at what Chris Christie is saying, despite the one thing. And I know you're going to come at me with that.

  • 11:36:55

    WINSTONBut, no, but he's trying to be creative and thinking through ways to make this immigration system work in a way that helps the country and helps everybody. Having said that, Donald Trump is injecting a level -- again, the deportation issue is just injecting a level of poisonous discourse that is not helpful at all at the moment.

  • 11:37:12

    KELLEYYeah. And I mean, look, there's no sign of him fizzling out. I think people have underestimated, you know, in thinking that he would. And he hasn't. And, you know, he's leaning hard on this issue. And the Republican candidates, by and large, have either agreed with him or they've said nothing. So, you know.

  • 11:37:28

    KEITHMore of this to come and your calls for our panel. Please stay tuned.

  • 11:40:00

    KEITHWelcome back. I'm Tamara Keith of NPR, sitting in for Diane Rehm. And we have an email here from Jake. He says, I want to point out that we are 433 days away from the election. It would be foolish for any candidate to come out strongly either way on such a contentious issue. I think we'll see a lot more coming from the Republicans in the coming months. Daniel Garza, do you think that we're going to hear from the candidates, that we're going to hear sort of specific immigration plans that get beyond inflammatory languages and -- language and walls, border walls?

  • 11:40:41

    GARZAI hope so. I think people are looking for statesmen, for a leader, someone who I think can drive a policy agenda that is going to lift all Americans and unite America. Look, at the same time, I think Donald Trump is a reaction to the Obama administration. You know, the people are looking for their own strong man, you know, who can impose over Congress, you know, their will and their agenda. And that's what Donald Trump proposes to do.

  • 11:41:09

    GARZAAnd -- but, you know, I think -- you know, more reasonable heads need to prevail here. You know, you want strong ideas. You want strong institutions, not strong men necessarily, yes one who is going to uphold the Constitution and be strong about it. But, you know, not their own will, you know, not their own aspirations but the aspirations of all Americans is what we need to be working towards. Immigration reform is part of that.

  • 11:41:33

    GARZAAnd look, 36 percent of Latinos self-identify as conservative. Thirty-five percent self-identify as independent and the rest as liberal. So there is a wide variance here within the Latino as who they're looking for. And so I think, you know, people are looking for different ideas and, you know, different characters, but Donald Trump's rise has been also accepted within part of the Latino community, which has been a big surprise.

  • 11:41:57


  • 11:41:57

    GARZAYes, it has, and in fact I have, you know, several folks who have, you know, reached out to me and wanted me to be supportive of Trump. You know, we don't endorse either candidate or party. We endorse ideas. You know, so I stay away from that conversation. But there are plenty of Latinos, you know, who have responded to Donald Trump's agenda.

  • 11:42:14

    KEITHMatt Barreto, what are the Democrats doing at this time? Are -- what -- you know, is it clear yet what Democrats are doing to try to reach this voting group and not take them for granted?

  • 11:42:29

    BARRETOWell, I think you're seeing, you know, all of the candidates on the Democratic side, you know, appear at Latino Events, engage the immigration issue. As Dan explained earlier, you know, Secretary Clinton has said that she would support a comprehensive immigration reform with a path to citizenship. She has said that if Congress fails to act that she would support the initiative, the executive initiatives by President Obama and go further. I think you've heard similar calls from senators, including Senator Reid has continued to push and promote for a comprehensive immigration reform solution.

  • 11:43:10

    BARRETOAnd so really the Democrats have pushed the bill in 2013 with 14 Republicans but with all Democrats and have continued to ask for a comprehensive immigration reform solution. And so I think in poll after poll that we've conducted throughout the 2013 immigration bill, we found that Latinos identified the Democratic Party as pushing for immigration reform, and they identified the Republican Party as mostly trying to block immigration reform.

  • 11:43:42

    BARRETOThat doesn't mean that there aren't individuals on both sides that aren't with the party. Obviously there were four Republican U.S. senators as part of that Gang of Eight. But that's the perspective of the Latino voter from the rhetoric they hear, from the coverage they see, and it could be the strong voices like Donald Trump and Steve King really guiding that narrative. But the Latino voter has identified the Democratic Party as trying to push for reform and the Republican Party as trying to block it. And if that trend continues, they're going to see an absolute repeat of 2012.

  • 11:44:15

    KEITHDave Winston, how do you reverse it?

  • 11:44:21

    WINSTONWell, I mean, the first challenge here is obviously Donald Trump, right, that the whole media reaction to him is he's defining the policy for the Republican Party, which he's not. I mean, we've had -- we have clearly other leaders who have been engaged in this issue who have different points of view, potentially, but it's not Donald Trump. And to some degree, Donald Trump has become a straw man, I would argue, for many folks to say this is who the Republican Party is, and that's fundamentally incorrect.

  • 11:44:48

    WINSTONStep two is also this concept of, okay, so how do we collectively move forward. Okay, if we have -- I mean, I will tell you this is a very controversial, difficult issue, and the idea of doing it through executive action rather than doing it through the legislative process that needs to be done to generate that consensus, we as a country need some sense of consensus around this to be able to effectively move forward.

  • 11:45:09

    WINSTONAnd I think the country is pretty close. But like I said, I want to go back to that fundamental conflict that exists. Are we a country of laws, a country of immigrants? Cleary those are two strongly held values, and it's not which one asserts itself more than the other but what's the resolution of the two to make it all work.

  • 11:45:24

    KEITHThere's a tweet here that I want to read from Ana. She says, too many language and semantic barriers for Latino voters, no real effort by Dem, Republicans -- Democrats or Republicans -- it's Twitter, so everything's abbreviated. No real effort by Dems or Republicans to engage, involve. Need more Latino candidates.

  • 11:45:44

    KELLEYGood point. Couldn't agree more. And we also need to know, like, so what's the policy. What, you know, what's the solution? What are we going to do about the 11 million people who are here without papers? We've got 16 million people who live in a family of mixed status, where you've got some people with papers, some people without, some people who are U.S. citizens. And, you know, here's where Trump has thrown the conversation wide open. There's lots of opportunities to talk about what the solution is.

  • 11:46:10

    KELLEYThere's a Senate bill that we can draw from, right, that's got a combination of dealing with the 11 million and also tough enforcement, and you don't hear the Republicans talking about any of that. They either align with him, or they're silent on it. So it's somewhat baffling to me that he is bullying them into silence or into a farther right-wing position rather than a constructive, solution-oriented frame, which is what I think the public wants to see.

  • 11:46:36

    KELLEYI mean, 78 percent of the American public still support a path to citizenship for the 11 million. I mean, people get it, right. We are past the point of trying to deport everybody. But it's as if the Republican candidates haven't caught up to where the public is. I mean, until they do, then I just don't think that they're going to ever win. And absolutely to your caller's point about we need much more diversity among our candidates. And the good projects like the Latino Victory Fund is trying to do exactly that, to try to bring up Latinos locally so that they can become eventual leaders.

  • 11:47:07

    KEITHDaniel Garza?

  • 11:47:07

    GARZAI think this is where the GOP is blowing it. I mean, they have a very diverse field of presidential candidates.

  • 11:47:14

    KEITHThey do, they do.

  • 11:47:16

    GARZAMarco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Carson, I mean, Bobby Jindal, Carly Fiorina.

  • 11:47:23

    KEITHAnd Jeb Bush, although he's...

  • 11:47:24

    GARZAJeb Bush, which is our adopted son, right/

  • 11:47:27

    KELLEYHe likes to think he's Latino.

  • 11:47:27

    KEITHJebecito speaks Spanish.

  • 11:47:29

    KELLEYNot acting like it, though.

  • 11:47:29

    GARZABut, you know, because of the rhetoric that -- you know, and the gravitational pull of Donald Trump, you know, who has taken up all the attention from the media on the issue of birthright citizenship, anchor babies and all these sort of negative things that are splitting the country, you're not focusing on the positive side. On the Democrats, it is not so diverse, turns out. It's very reflective of white America and the views and opinions and priorities of white America. So it is a very lost opportunity, and this Twitter, I think, points out a good fact.

  • 11:47:58

    KEITHI want to go back to the phones and William in Concord, New Hampshire. William, thanks for calling in.

  • 11:48:04

    WILLIAMOh thank you, thank you for taking my call. I -- I just wanted the panel to comment because one of the things that I'm noticing is that the more vitriolic Donald Trump is about this issue, the more his poll numbers are surging. I'd appreciate if you'd just comment on that contradiction.

  • 11:48:22

    KEITHWhy is it that -- is it a causal relationship, Dave Winston?

  • 11:48:26

    WINSTONNo, no, what it is, is look, he makes comments, and the press cover it. The more vitriolic they are, the more likely they are to be covered. And so what he's getting is he's getting a lot of attention, and that attention in the short run, as people are sort of noticing this, is some people are initially saying I'll consider that, but ultimately, given what he's saying, that's going to dissipate. But again, this is where I go back.

  • 11:48:49

    WINSTONDon't mistake consideration for conclusion, and what Donald Trump knows how to do better than anything else is play the media, right? He knows how to make a statement and be -- he's literally been on, think about it, every night for how many nights in a row. His speeches get carried live.

  • 11:49:02

    KEITHHe wasn't even trying, and he's taken over this hour of the Diane Rehm Show. There you go.

  • 11:49:05

    WINSTONVery good point.

  • 11:49:07

    KEITHDaniel Garza?

  • 11:49:08

    GARZAI think he looked across the world and saw, in the mold of a Silvio Berlusconi, an Hugo Chavez, you know, these personalities that can, you know, drive the attention of the people. And becoming populist, and that's exactly what he's tapped into in this race.

  • 11:49:24

    KEITHMatt Barreto, with Latino Decisions, you're on the phone, and you want to chime in.

  • 11:49:30

    BARRETOYeah, let me -- let me just push back a little bit on that and agree with the comment. The Republican Party has an ideological fight within it that is driving this. There are absolutely large segments of Republican primary voters who are agreeing with Trump's anti-immigrant message, and when he makes more of it, they come to him. And so that is an issue that they're going to have to confront as they move forward into the general election and even move through the primaries.

  • 11:50:00

    BARRETOIt doesn't mean all Republican voters feel that way. In fact, swaths of the general electorate, a majority of Republicans agree with what Angie said earlier, a path to citizenship. But if you look at primary voters, especially in these early states, they are responding to this rhetoric. It's not just his celebrity. And so the Republican Party is going to have to figure out not just with its candidates but what to do with that Tea Party faithful, which really is responding to a nationalist anti-immigrant message, and they're going to continue to be there and continue to push the candidate. So that is an important part of their -- of their base.

  • 11:50:35

    KEITHBack to the phones. I want to go to Louis, or is it Louis, in Washington, D.C.

  • 11:50:41

    LOUISYes, Louis. Hi, how are you?

  • 11:50:42

    KEITHLouis, welcome.

  • 11:50:43

    LOUISThank you, thank you for taking my call. I mainly wanted to point out that as a Latino, I actually find the approach from the Republican Party a little bit schizophrenic. I know that they claim to want the Latino vote, but then actions that would alienate some of the super-conservative American voters. And so I wanted to point that out because no -- I don't see myself voting Republican in a long time. And also wanted to point when it comes to those undocumented immigrants that they pay taxes. So a lot of -- with this rhetoric of them kind of like being criminals and also taking resources, I actually think they're in some ways, for the Republicans, they're the best kind of taxpayer. I mean, they pay, but they don't actually get most of the benefits. So I wanted to point those things out. Thank you very much.

  • 11:51:33

    KEITHDaniel Garza? Yeah, thank you.

  • 11:51:33

    GARZAI think in a very real way, there's just a lot of uncertainty, and when someone speak with that kind of fortitude, it, you know, sort of dissipates a little bit of that uncertainty. So, for example, you know, Washington is flourishing while the rest of America suffers, you know, Main Street is suffering. Bureaucrats are getting, you know, more control. We're getting less control. And they feel like, you know, politicians are fulfilling their aspirations and their dreams, and we're not. And so when somebody comes along and says that they're going to, you know, flip that, you know, reverse that, you know, people respond to that.

  • 11:52:01

    GARZAAnd sometimes, you know, we can maybe, you know, read too much into and too many conclusions, and -- but Donald Trump is a force, I mean, of personality to begin with. But look, at the end of the day I think things will equal out. A lot of Latinos are looking, you know, for that leader who's going to reach consensus on immigration reform. But they're also looking for somebody who's going to focus on the private sector and create economic growth, jobs, opportunity, create, you know, opportunities for also quality education.

  • 11:52:26

    KEITHI'm Tamara Keith, and you're listening to the Diane Rehm Show. And let's go to the phones once again, and Liz in Apex, North Carolina.

  • 11:52:37

    LIZHi. Am I on?

  • 11:52:39

    KEITHYou are on the radio right now. Thanks for joining us.

  • 11:52:42

    LIZThank you so much for taking my call. I just had a quick question. There's been a lot of talk about the Republicans and Democrats and their position on immigration and what they've put forth. I'm wondering if there are any leaders in the Latino community who have put forth an immigration idea or a plan that maybe would cross party lines.

  • 11:53:02

    GARZAWell, Marco Rubio had led the Gang of Eight and actually got it passed through the Senate. So there's one already.

  • 11:53:09

    KEITHAngela Kelley?

  • 11:53:10

    KELLEYThat's right, and, I mean, look. There have been valiant efforts, including even in the House of Representatives, where Mario Diaz-Balart, a Republican from Florida, was working very closely with Luis Gutierrez, a Democrat from Illinois, very outspoken in support of comprehensive immigration reform and, you know, really a leader in the Latino community. And they tried, and they tried, and they tried, and they couldn't get that elusive immigration bill introduced in the House of Representatives, which is why they didn't pass anything in the last session.

  • 11:53:37

    KELLEYSo yes, there have been efforts by a handful of members of Congress. And look, I really think we have a blueprint in terms of what the Senate passed in a bipartisan way, and absolutely Marco Rubio was in the Gang of Eight. You know, he was sitting shoulder-to-shoulder with Dick Durbin and with Chuck Schumer and with Menendez and others to -- and did craft a bill. Today would he stand by that bill? Would he be explicit and say that he would endorse a path to citizenship? I'm not so sure. And this is where you see the kind of backing away or the silence or the downright embrace of Republicans to the Trump-like ideas. And that's what's offensive.

  • 11:54:18

    KEITHLet us go back to the phones, one more caller. And Charles in Brooklyn, New York.

  • 11:54:23

    CHARLESYes, I committed myself a long time ago to remind talk radio that there is no consensus between the parties on any issue because the Republicans took a pledge not to cooperate with the president, similar to the pledge that Hitler made his army take to a party and not to a nation.

  • 11:54:46


  • 11:54:48

    CHARLESSo I'm very sorry.

  • 11:54:50

    KEITHI think you just went too far.

  • 11:54:52

    KELLEYWell, the lack of cooperation, though, I think is his -- is a point, even though it is an extreme comparison. But yeah, you don't see that kind of reaching across the aisle, and that's why when the Senate passed this bill on immigration, you know, we thought, wow, this is a moment where these senators are really acting like statesmen. It's why we elected them. And then unfortunately it just dissolved, and we're now talking about anchor babies and building walls with Canada.

  • 11:55:18

    KEITHDaniel Garza?

  • 11:55:19

    GARZABut I mean, we do go back to the caller's point, the first point, where the -- Democrats do not get to define what immigration reform is. Let's just put that on the table. Neither do Republicans. They both do. And again, you know, so you cannot take an unrealistic position or say it's all or nothing, which is what the president did. You have to give. You have to compromise. You have to negotiate in good faith, and that's not what the Republicans saw.

  • 11:55:49

    GARZAAnd in fact, even on Obamacare, for example, you know, he withheld and changed and reformed and did all kinds of alterations to the bill. Where you going to do that to the immigration reform bill? And that's why Marco Rubio had pulled back a little bit. That is legitimate. That is legitimate, you know, concerns from the Republican side. And so again, we're asking for that leader who can reach consensus and show strength on this issue.

  • 11:56:12

    WINSTONAnd that's the hardest thing to do. I mean, what was just described here, building a majority coalition around a controversial topic is incredibly hard, and part of -- part of this discussion in terms of what's occurred has been here's our plan, why haven't you accepted it, as opposed to what's the discourse that actually lets us get to a resolution. And look, democracy is incredibly difficult to lead, and it shows itself that way all the time. And just to assume that somehow your idea should supersede that and go to executive orders doesn't understand the nature of government.

  • 11:56:45

    KEITHAnd in just 15 seconds, Angela Kelley, you get the last word.

  • 11:56:47

    KELLEYYeah, I mean, just let me make a quick point. You can't have it both ways, right. The discourse is being completely polluted by Republican candidates. The president waited and waited and waited for a House bill. The Senate passed a bill, which was a bipartisan blueprint, which is exactly what you guys are asking for. And then within the boundaries of his law -- of his ability, the president, yes, engaged in executive action and at the same time has robust enforcement.

  • 11:57:14

    WINSTONA good excuse.

  • 11:57:15

    KEITHWell, this discussion of the Latino electorate has moved all the way directly to a debate about immigration reform. Matthew Barreto, thank you so much for joining us from the phone, Daniel Garza, David Winston and Angela Kelley. I'm Tamara Keith of NPR sitting in for Diane Rehm. Thanks for listening.

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