WASHINGTON, D.C. -- With a little more than three weeks until the presidential election, GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump's behavior and the Republican Party's failure to rein him in will likely cause a surge in Latinos going to the polls and voting for Hillary Clinton, said two Latina panelists at a forum discussing the importance of the Latino electorate.
One of them, Republican strategist Ana Navarro, has become something of a hero to anti-Trump Republicans and Democrats for her consistently outspoken criticism of the Republican nominee.
"We have gone completely down the gutter. I don't think we'll get anywhere outside the gutter between now and Election Day," said Navarro.
Navarro described as a "game changer" the furor caused by the video of Trump's comments about groping and kissing women.
But she said it was not surprising considering what Trump has said before about others.
"My question is why did it take that tape? Why wasn't it when it called Mexicans rapists, why wasn't it when he mocked a disabled reporter. Why wasn't it when he picked a fight with a Gold Star family, why wasn't it when it when he said he would ban all Muslims? Why wasn't it when (Trump) was questioning (Indiana) Judge (Gonzalo) Curiel's ability to do his job because he parents were born in Mexico?"
"You're either a woman or you know a woman or you know someone who has experienced it (sexual assault or harassment) or you have experienced it yourself, and it's lifted the veil on America on just what a misogynist pig the Republican Party managed to nominate and we are now paying the price. We nominated a combination of Roger Ailes and Bill Cosby," said Navarro.
New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, a Democrat and Clinton supporter, joined Navarro at the panel.
"Trump is a real visceral example of what your vote can do, by rejecting this individual and in a sense protecting themselves," said Mark-Viverito. "We are seeing an incredible amount of people involved in the process and that is good for the (Latino) community. We're in a very dangerous moment in our country but the positive is communities are coming together (against Trump's rhetoric)."
Mark-Viverito said this week publicly disclosed that Trump's comments had dredged memories of childhood sexual abuse. She said Trump's remarks "resurfaced wounds that I was trying to heal. We are at a turning point. This is a presidential campaign like no other and I feel compelled to be involved because there is so much at stake."
The two women spoke at a forum on the Latino vote at the Georgetown University Institute of Politics and Public Service that was co-sponsored by the non-partisan Latino Victory Project.
Voter registration groups and others who monitor elections predict a higher Hispanic voter turnout this year compared to previous years.
In California alone, the state with the highest Latino population in the country, a new report by the University of California at Davis shows that more than one in five voters casting a ballot in the 2016 California primary election were Latino, the highest in 12 years.
"It appears that the unique nature of the 2016 primary election galvanized high levels of Latino participation," said the report, echoing the comments made by Mark-Viverito and Navarro.
Yet a recent Pew Research poll found fewer Hispanics were certain they would vote in 2016 compared to 2012.
"The Latino vote will be the decisive vote and we have to encourage people to come out — it's up to us to motivate people to go out and vote, so that our issues can be a priority," said Mark-Viverito.
Added Navarro to the gathering, "Coño, vote. (Damnit, vote)."