BOULDER, Colo. –- A coalition of Latino conservative activists warned the Republican presidential field on Tuesday to ditch Donald Trump’s rhetoric on immigration, or they risk losing the election.
“Heed our warning: don’t expect us to come to your side during the general election,” said Rosario Marín, who served as Treasurer under former President George W. Bush. “If you are not with us now, we won’t be with you then. If you insult us now, we will be deaf to you then. If you take us for granted now, we will not recognize you then.”
Marín was flanked by nearly two dozen other activists, small business owners and elected officials who met earlier that day in Boulder as part of an event organized by the American Principles Project's Latino Partnership to discuss the upcoming election. The group said they weren't endorsing any candidate, but were unified in their opposition to one: Trump.
Although others in the group named Trump, Marín refused to say his name and instead decried the “nonstop vitriolic insults” from “a wannabe politician.”
“Foolishly, some candidates think they don’t need the Hispanic vote in the primary, so they pander to the voters with extreme views instead of just showing us who they are,” Marín added.
She and others warned that Trump could not win the White House, and any candidate that embraced his rhetoric or policies would inevitably lose as well. Tony Suarez, National Hispanic Christioan Leadership Conference executive vice president, said Trump's candidacy "needs to be canceled like his last reality TV program.”
"Mr. Trump has become a promoter of hate, division and insult and if Mr. Trump were to be the Republican nominee – I don’t think he has a chance at winning the general election," Suarez said.
The group described themselves as “stalwarts in the Latino community,” noting they’ve all been active on past presidential campaigns rallying and turning out Latino voters.
They threatened to withhold their support from candidates who are not more receptive to the Latino community and who do not reject Trump’s rhetoric, but emphasized that they’re not unified in support of a particular policy platform.
Alfonso Aguilar, director of the American Principles Project said, however, the group does believe candidates who oppose birthright citizenship, and those who focus just on border security without offering other "constructive solutions" to the immigration problem are in the wrong.
"If Republicans cannot be constructive on the issues, Latino voters will not listen to our candidates when they address other issues," he said.
There was some disagreement in the group on whether to also criticize Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, by name. Ultimately, the group.
Cristobal Alex, president of the left leaning Latino Victory Project, said he was "happy" the GOP Hispanics "were finally doing the bare minimum and making it clear they won't support Donald Trump for president."
But he said other candidates had also used inflammatory language and support policies similar to Trump's.
"Putting your field on notice is great, but if conservatives really want to be taken seriously by the Latino community they have to go beyond doing the bare minimum to condemn inflammatory rhetoric and start holding candidates accountable even when it's not politically expedient," Alex said in a news release.
Coincidentally, the GOP Hispanics held their meeting the same day Sioux City, Iowa students, activists and residents held a silent protest in opposition to Trump holding a rally on the high school campus in their school district. The protesters wanted the district to enforce its zero-tolerance anti-bullying policy to keep Trump from holding the rally there.
The coalition of GOP Hispanics plans to meet again in Nevada before the next GOP debate to discuss whether the field has heeded its warning, and at that time, Aguilar warned, the group could "name more names” of candidates who are anathema to their views.