With the immigration issue dominating headlines on the Republican side of the 2016 presidential race, Hillary Clinton’s campaign is touting its “strong support” from the Latino community in a memo obtained exclusively by NBC News.
The Democratic front-runner’s campaign condemns what it calls Donald Trump’s “hateful rhetoric” aimed at undocumented immigrants and points to poll numbers indicating Clinton would “trounce” Trump in a general election contest among Latino voters (69 percent to 22 percent, according to an MSNBC/Telemundo/Marist poll).
The memo, titled “Winning the Latino Vote,” does not mention any other Republican by name, but does draw stark comparisons between Trump and Clinton’s commitment to comprehensive immigration reform.
“In the face of a Republican party that threatens to tear apart immigrant families who live in fear of deportation due to Congress’ inaction, Clinton has promised that she will do everything possible under the law to expand and enhance protections for families and communities hurt by our broken immigration system,” the letter states.
Trump has pledged to build a fence on the southern border and to deport millions of undocumented immigrants currently living in the United States.
With less than 100 days to the Nevada caucus, with a large group of Latino voters, the campaign says it’s employing “an aggressive plan to engage” that community. The strategy includes efforts to ramp up grassroots action in other states like Colorado, Texas and Virginia, where the Latino vote is key. It was written by Clinton's National Political Director, Amanda Renteria and Lorella Praeli, Director of Latino Outreach.
Clinton frequently takes to Twitter to hit Trump (and more recently, Marco Rubio) on immigration issues. Those messages are then often translated into Spanish and tweeted from the same account as part of a larger social media strategy aimed at Latino voters.
The former secretary of state is relatively popular among Latinos (her favorability numbers are higher among them than with the general population). According to an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, 53 percent of Latinos had a positive view of her and only 21 had a negative opinion.
In 2008, Clinton beat President Barack Obama in the primaries among Latinos, receiving 63 percent of their support.
There is no mention of Clinton’s chief Democratic rival, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, or her other challenger, former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, in the memo. This falls in line with Clinton’s tendency on the campaign trail, which is to draw distinctions with Republicans instead of hitting her Democratic opponents.
But Clinton has said repeatedly that she would go beyond President Obama’s executive actions on immigration, which the memo highlights, saying Clinton will “seek to create an accessible pathway for those who are not covered by President Obama’s executive actions - such as parents of DREAMers - to apply for deferred action as well.”
As president, Clinton will also “do everything possible under the law to expand and enhance protections for families and communities hurt by our broken immigration system,” including phasing out private immigration detention centers, according to the letter.
The campaign argues that Clinton’s proposals on college affordability, health care and criminal justice would also directly benefit the Latino community.
More than a dozen House members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus have endorsed Clinton, including Rep. Xavier Becerra, who will act as a surrogate in the spin room at the CBS Democratic debate this weekend in Des Moines, according to an aide.
The campaign released a similar memo earlier this month that detailed its strategy with African-American voters. Clinton holds a commanding lead over Sanders in South Carolina. A new Monmouth University poll, taken before and after MSNBC’s First in the South Democratic Candidates Forum last week, shows Clinton leading Sanders 69 percent to 21 percent.
The Clinton campaign officially launched its “Latinos for Hillary” initiative in October at an event where Housing and Urban Development Secretary (and rumored vice presidential prospect) Julian Castro endorsed Clinton.
"Having watched and respected for years now Secretary Clinton, I know that she appeals to Americans of all backgrounds and colors, different perspectives and walks of life," Castro said with Clinton standing next to him in San Antonio, Texas.
The memo also touts that Clinton has tapped Latino entertainers Marc Anthony and Christina Aguilera as campaign surrogates. Clinton made a surprise appearance at one of Anthony’s concerts last month in Miami and Aguilera recently hosted a campaign fundraiser at her Los Angeles home.
Latina actresses Salma Hayek, Rosie Perez and America Ferrera will also play significant roles, including doing interviews in both English and Spanish, according to the campaign.
In the weeks to come, the campaign says it “will ramp up efforts to blanket the country with voices” from the Latino community.
“One thing is clear,” the memo boasts. “Hillary Clinton has momentum among Latino voters as we get closer to the primaries and caucuses in key states where the Latino vote is critical to locking up the nomination.”