A group of Latino Republicans met in the city hosting the last presidential debate and said they've had enough of "piñata politics" and a party that disrespected them.
After an election cycle in which their protests on Donald Trump's statements on Mexicans, Latinos and immigrants were largely ignored, the Hispanic leaders very nearly called the presidential race over for their party in Nevada on Wednesday.
"We are ready to turn the page," said Alfonso Aguilar, executive director of the Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles. Aguilar helped organize a group of Latinos who blasted Trump during the primaries, then joined a few Hispanics who decided to support him, only to revoke his support after Trump refused to back down from his statements and immigration views.
Aguilar made the statement at a Las Vegas news conference following a meeting of about 30 Hispanic Republicans who said they gathered to find ways to "take back the party" and become "active participants in the conservative agenda."
"The reality is that for too long, Latino Republicans have been too complacent, always ready to engage in what I call 'piñata politics,' fundraising for Republicans and putting together events for candidates with Latino voters. Yet, we haven’t really been taken seriously or heard," Aguilar said. "We are here to tell you that the era of “piñata politics” is over."
Their meeting and comments were reminiscent of the GOP's "autopsy" that followed the loss of Mitt Romney in 2012. One of the conclusions reached was the party must engage Latinos to survive.
Artemio Muniz, head of the Texas Federation of Hispanic Republicans and a child of immigrants who arrived illegally, noted that not too long ago George W. Bush won some 40 percent of the Hispanic vote. Trump is likely to have the worst showing among Hispanic voters in recent history. Polls are showing it at about 16 percent, Muniz said.
"There is much work to do in the Hispanic community in order to win again," he said.
The leaders ended their conference by saying they continue to support Rep. Joe Heck over former Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto in the race to replace Democrat Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, who is retiring. Heck was a Trump supporter who recently withdrew his backing, although he said in a private meeting he'd like to support him but can't.