CLEVELAND — On the last day of Donald Trump’s convention, the Republican Party sought to blunt reports that there are few Latino delegates at the convention, but had trouble coming up with the number of Latino delegates at the convention.
GOP media spokeswoman Helen Aguirre Ferré said early Thursday she did not know the exact number of Latino delegates when asked by NBC News Latino, which had been requesting the information through the week. Pressed, she said she didn’t have it.
About two hours before the convention convened for the last time, she said it was at at least 133. The number could change, she said, because not all delegates had submitted their surveys.
The Democratic convention begins next week. Although the numbers are not final, Democratic convention spokesman Juan Pachon said "the anticipation is we will have more than 720 "convention participants" who self-identify as Hispanic. The number of actual delegates was not immediately provided because Democrats were still finalizing numbers, Pachon said.
Every day this week, the Republican party has showcased Latino surrogates at the weekly news conference for Hispanic media covering the convention.
On Thursday, surrogates and volunteers filled a front row of a conference room where the briefings have been held. Aguirre Ferré read off their names to counter what she said were people in the media telling her they cannot find Latinos who support Trump and his running mate Mike Pence at the convention. At previous conventions, Latinos had been more visible as delegates and surrogates and as part of the prime time lineup and entertainment and activities.
Ralph Alvarado, a Nevada state senator who spoke at the convention Wednesday night, was among four panelists who expressed support for Trump at Thursday's news conference.
Aguirre Ferré thanked him for delivering remarks in Spanish Wednesday night and said he brought everyone to their feet.
Throughout the week, the party and campaign have been working to counter the optics of the largely white delegates at the convention and that they are a significant portion of Trump’s base.
Trump has said repeatedly that “the Hispanics” love him and that he’ll win their vote.
But he turned off many loyal GOP Hispanics when he opened his presidential bid by trashing Mexicans, saying they bring drugs and crime and are rapists.
After the convention, Trump is expected to take a tour to meet with Hispanics around the country. A Miami meeting he planned before the convention and a second one were rescheduled.
"He wants to have a conversation with the Latino community ... and that conversation will happen and it's going to be a diverse group," Aguirre Ferré said.