CLEVELAND, Ohio — Some of the Latino convention-goers are buoyed by what was pulled off over the last four days at the Republican National Convention and feel confident of Donald Trump's chances in the White House.
"Phenomenal," said José Fuentes, a Puerto Rico delegate, of Trump's closing act Thursday. "Every subject he has addressed has received wide acceptance. Knocking it out of the park," he said.
Sergio de la Peña, owner of a consulting firm in Burke, Va., and a Trump surrogate, said Trump's speech did connect with Latinos, particularly on economics and safety. He said there are Latinos who are afraid to express their Trump support because the media hammers them for backing him.
"There is a portion of the Hispanic community that all they want is a job and they just want basics and they are typically not as vocal," de la Peña said.
"I believe there are Hispanics who will vote for him and his percentage will be greater than Romney and McCain," he said.
Trump's extraordinarily long convention speech — which drew Twitter memes and comments comparing him to Fidel Castro — conveyed images of bleak and dangerous times, while presenting as the candidate who can change the country's future.
Yet the speech was thin on details on how he will accomplish the safety, prosperity and peace he pledged would be in store for Americans under his presidency. The word Latinos came up just twice in his speech, when he said two million more Latinos are in poverty today than when President Barack Obama took office and in saying immigration was costing African Americans and Latinos their jobs and lowering their wages.
Trump strung through the speech statements about illegal immigration and crime committed by immigrants, reprising the images of Mexican immigrants as criminals, rapists and drug traffickers that he evoked when he launched his campaign.
Rick Figueroa, a delegate from Brenham, Texas, said even though the way Trump spoke about immigration is not his style, Trump did well in addressing the issue in his remarks.
"His point was to drive an awakening," Figueroa said. "Rather than an awakening, we need to go to that solution. He will, but I think that’s important that it was a conversation that’s just starting."
Figueroa added that nobody talked about immigration prior to Trump. "He dropped the bomb. But for the Latino community, if things are in flux that means we can mold it into a good solution," said Figueroa, who describes himself as someone who went from the barrio to the boardroom.
The convention had a significantly diminished Latino presence as compared to what was seen when George W. Bush and Mitt Romney were the candidates. The GOP attempted to promote Latino support for Trump with daily briefings in Spanish where Latino surrogates and delegates spoke to media.
The party and campaign also sought to promote the idea of unity and emphasize that all delegates, regardless of their background are Americans.
Thursday night, "Hispanics Para Trump" signs were distributed to conventioneers, along with "Women for Trump" signs. But the "Hispanics Para Trump" sign drew some jeering for its grammar usage as well as some anti-Latino comments and disdain for Latinos who are backing Trump.
Hillary Clinton, who will accept her party's nomination next Thursday, took issue with Trump suggesting his presidency would be one that was inclusive.
The party and Trump's campaign are organizing a "tour" for Trump to meet with Latinos around the country and build support in the community. Details are pending.
But Luis Miranda, spokesman for the Democratic party, he has much ground to make up.
"It's hard to make headway when the bulk of the convention was about portraying Hispanic immigrants as criminals and Latino elected officials like Marco Rubio were afraid to be seen there in person," Miranda said.
Trump can expect that many Latino advocacy groups will dog him and his comments about immigrants through the election.
Roger Rocha, the national president of the League of United Latin Americans Citizens, which does not endorse a candidate and is non-partisan, criticized Trump's acceptance speech, questioning his record on ensuring fair pay for workers.
"Trump justifies his hate and condemnation against the Latino community as political correctness. He fancies himself as the ‘law and order’ president whose plan for immigration reform includes mass deportation and building a wall," Rocha said.
"His multiple bankruptcy filings have been used to cancel contracts and avoid paying average Americans for work performed at Trump facilities," Rocha said. "If elected president, Trump's divisive policies will bankrupt our country both morally and economically, and the damage will be felt for generations to come."