CLEVELAND — As the Republican party ticket is being rounded out with the addition of Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, GOP Latinos are looking ahead to the work they have to do in the community to turn out votes among Hispanics for Donald Trump.
Pence accepted the nomination for vice president on Wednesday, the third night of the convention. He did so the same night that Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, the first Latino to win a major primary or caucus, set off deafening boos in the arena by refusing to name Donald Trump or endorse him as he addressed the crowd.
Although Cruz told the crowd to "vote your conscience," and spoke of defending the Constitution, he never exhorted them to vote for Trump.
Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., addressed the crowd, but from a video; and said that unlike Hillary Clinton, Trump was committed to cut taxes, curb spending, and get the national debt under control.
Those assembled also heard from one of the few Latinos to speak at the convention, Kentucky state Sen. Ralph Alvarado.
Alvarado is the first Hispanic ever elected to the state Kentucky Legislature and the son of parents who immigrated from Puerto Rico and Argentina.
Like other Latinos in the party, he is a Trump-backer by process of elimination of other candidates he preferred. He is supporting him despite disagreement with Trump's comments about Mexicans and others.
“The options are between somebody who is brutally honest, perhaps to a fault, versus someone who is going to look into a camera and say something you don’t know if they are telling you the truth or not,” Alvarado said previously to The Associated Press.
On Wednesday night, in English and later in Spanish, Alvarado told the crowd to "voten conmigo" - vote with me - for Donald Trump.
Washington, D.C. delegate Teri Galvez also took a circuitous route to being a Trump backer. Trump wasn’t her first, second or third choice, but now she’s on the Trump train.
“He’s the nominee of my party and I will support the Republican,” she said. “I always vote Republican.”
A daughter of Mexican immigrants, Galvez said she believes in the Democratic process and “the will of the people.”
The dearth of speakers and few Latinos among the delegates’ ranks reflect what a conservative Latino group found in polling it did of GOP Latino voters.
The poll found that while there is strong support among conservative Latinos voters — 43 percent who have a positive or very positive view of him — just 23 percent of moderate GOP Latino voters held a similar view.
In addition, 62 percent of those who said they would not consider voting for Trump at all, said they would consider voting for Clinton.
The poll is based on results from 200 Latino voters of 1,000 polled, the Latino Coalition said.
However, the poll also found that some 40 percent of Latino voters who said they hold a negative or very negative view of Trump would vote for him, according to the poll conducted from June 15 to July 3.
Bertica Cabrera Morris is a delegate from central Florida who was one of the top Hispanics in the Juntos Con Romney campaign and a former campaign manager for Senator Marco Rubio. Although she was backing Rubio, once he was out of the campaign she and cast her vote as a delegate for Trump. She said she’ll vote for him in November.
“We definitely need to vote for a man that is going to bring us security and jobs. That’s what I’m about, national security – that’s what I think he can do.”
“I think Trump is going to win by a landslide,” Morris said.
Galvez also said national security was the turning point that led her to finally supporting Trump. She mentioned the Orlando nightclub shootings and a fear of ISIS’ presence in the country. She said even though Clinton has worked on national security issues as secretary of state she does not want to see a continuation of Barack Obama’s policies for dealing with terrorism.
California delegate BoB Lopez, (he spells his first name with a capital B on the end so it can be spelled backwards) said Trump is a "doer." He said Trump will make mistakes but that won't happen all the time and "you can accomplish a lot more by being a doer, than by being a studier," which he said is what Democrats are.
"Last year in June when he announced he was going to run, people said it would not happen," Lopez said. "You can't tell Trump you can't do that. He will get the Latino vote. He will get the black vote. We need him."
Felix Vega, a Sandinas, California delegate, had a similar view. He said the Latino community "had been sold a bad bag of goods" regarding Trump and his policies.
"He's the only guy who was willing to face the problem head on. Alright? Everybody else didn't want to face the immigration problem and even a lot of other problems. He doesn't procrastinate," Vega said.
"I have many friends that are illegals. Their quality of life is not good, the way they live they are constantly looking over their shoulders," said Vega. "Donald Trump is facing the problem and he's saying we need to deal with it now."
Others were less confident that Trump could do well in the Latino community and acknowledged a challenge ahead.
For those willing, it means promoting a candidate in the community that they have previously condemned for saying Mexico was sending immigrants who were rapists and criminals and later questioning the competence of a federal judge because of his Mexican heritage.
Some Republicans worry Trump will make it harder to beat Democrats in November.
“I am chomping at the bits here with the opportunity with Hillary,” said Artemio “Temo” Muniz, a delegate from Texas and head of the Texas Federation of Hispanic Republicans.
“I think Republicans have such a big opportunity, but then I look at the Trump campaign and I am worried they are dropping the ball, especially looking at immigration and the Hispanic vote,” Muniz said.