My latest piece for Refinery 29 takes on Donald Trump’s two very different speeches on opposite sides of the US – Mexico border and why they gave me “whiplash.” Read the piece  here: http://www.refinery29.com/2016/09/121984/trump-immigration-speeches-mexico-arizona-compared


Why Trump’s Speech On Immigration Gave Me Whiplash

Whiplash. It’s the only word that comes to mind when I think about how I felt watching the two competing — and starkly different — speeches Donald Trump delivered on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border yesterday.

Trump started Wednesday as one of the best days of his campaign. Talking heads on cable news, including myself, were praising his bold decision to accept Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto’s invitation to meet with him in Mexico.

Standing side by side with the Mexican president, Trump lookedpresidential. He was respectful in recognizing the positive contributions Mexican-Americans have made to the United States (something I appreciated as a daughter of a Mexican immigrant). He delivered thoughtful remarks laying out a new hemisphere-centric philosophy and promising to strengthen our bilateral relationship to confront common challenges. Like many, I felt Trump’s Mexico speech was a powerful way to crush questions on his temperament and reduce voter concerns.

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As the press conference concluded, Trump’s Mexican gamble seemed to be paying off: Voters like me started to feel optimistic and hopeful that this signaled a new direction on immigration that was fair and firm. His visit to Mexico was helping Trump finally move past last week’s difficulties when he vacillated on what he has made his signature issue. As his speech approached that evening, I thought he was going to give much-needed clarity on his positions on enforcement and how to deal with the 11 million people currently living illegally in the U.S. What to do with the undocumented population already here is an issue too many politicians have either failed to successfully address or avoided completely.

The first cracks in the wall (pun intended), however, appeared soon after both men left the podium. In a tweet, Peña Nieto said he made it clear to Trump that Mexico will never pay for his proposed wall. Trump has continued to insist that Mexico would pay 100%.

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As the sun set on Trumpland and the candidate took the stage in Arizona, it was like a dark cloud had rolled in on the once-hopeful day. In Phoenix, the same old Trump came out roaring with such vengeance, it was hard to tell if I was watching a live speech or a rerun from the primaries.

Recently, I was invited by CBS to be part of a Google Hang out to talk about the growing Hispanic vote. The two part interview was a lively discussion with a diverse set of characters working in and out of the world of politics.

The hangout was hosted by CBS News’ John Dickerson. He tried to organize our lively group which included Gabriela Domenzain of the Obama Campaign; Executive Director of the Hispanic Leadership Network Jennifer Sevilla Korn; Founder of LatinoRebels.com, Julio Ricardo Varela; Esai Morales, Actor and Co-Founder of the National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts; America’s Voice Executive Director Frank Sharry and myself.

Watch the video below for see the conversation. A segment of the Google+ Hangout will be shown on CBS News Sunday morning show, Face the Nation.

I’m proud to announce I have joined the Republican National Committee as their Director of Hispanic Outreach.

In a conference call earlier today, RNC Chairman Reince Priebus mapped out the GOP’s expanded Latino inclusion efforts which will include a strong community engagement focus, working directly with local Latino leaders to spread the Republican message,  and an effective GOTV effort to connect with Hispanic voters.  Special focus will be placed on key battleground states like Florida, New Mexico, Colorado, North Carolina and Nevada with large Hispanic populations. The program includes a strong bilingual communications push and a social media presence. The Chairman explained that in my new capacity, I’ll be working closely with RNC staff on the ground to ensure they are successfully involving the Latino community at all levels of the Party.

Read the press release below and some news articles. (For ESPAÑOL). If you missed the conference call announcing the enhanced Latino strategy,  listen to the the full audio here and read the highlights here.

RNC Hispanic Outreach to Capitalize on Obama’s Failed Leadership

WASHINGTON – Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairman Reince Priebus has announced the next phase of the RNC’s national Latino engagement effort:

“The expanded multifaceted approach to connect with the Hispanic community will include both digital outreach, traditional voter identification, and get out the vote efforts,” said RNC Chairman Priebus. “Aimed at connecting with the fastest growing demographic, the RNC will place staff on the ground across the country to coordinate the GOP’s Hispanic effort as part of a program to make sure Barack Obama is a one-term president. Latinos play an integral role in our communities and the Republican Party believes it is essential to involve Latinos at every level of our Party’s efforts in 2012.”

To organize the national effort and oversee state-level staff working with local Latino communities, the RNC has named Bettina Inclán as the Director of Hispanic Outreach. Bettina is the former Executive Director of the Republican National Hispanic Assembly and has served on numerous campaigns at the national, state and local level. Most recently, Bettina worked on statewide campaigns in both California and Florida. She was part of the team that elected Rick Scott Governor of Florida, who secured over 50 percent of the Hispanic vote in his successful run in 2010.

To kick-off the effort, the RNC has launched a Twitter account @RNCLatinos and a Tumblr blog at RNCLatinos.tumblr.com. The social media sites will include the latest bilingual content, research and videos from the RNC and provide an opportunity for the community to share their thoughts. The Twitter account and Tumblr blog will join the existing bilingual website for Latinos.

“With the unemployment rate for the Latino community at eleven percent, over two points higher than the national average, Latinos across the country are frustrated with Obama’s failed economic policies. Their dissatisfaction with the president creates an opening for the Republican Party’s message of economic security and conservative values to resonate with Latinos,” said RNC Co-Chairman Sharon Day.

A mobile text campaign has also been launched asking Latino voters to text “ÚNETE” (Unite) to 91919 (Data & Msg rates may apply) and join the RNC’s mobile army.

As the 2012 election cycle continues, the RNC will unfold additional pieces of its Hispanic outreach program.

Some news clips from around the country:

Miami Herald: RNC announces new Hispanic outreach director, Bettina Inclan

…“This election is going to be about the economy, about jobs,” she said. As for the candidates, she said, “they’ll be engaging directly with the Latino community. I’m positive they’ll be excited.”

Republicans praised the choice. So did Democrat Florida Democrat Kyra Jennings, who said on Twitter: “Congrats to @BettinaInclan – and us Dems should take note! RT @MarcACaputo Bettina Inclan named as RNC’s director of Latino outreach.”

The Hill: GOP Makes Play For Hispanic Support

Orlando Sentinel: RNC announces more Hispanic outreach

Roll Call: RNC Names Hispanic Outreach Director

AP: Republicans to expand Latino outreach

Univision: Republicans unveil Latino outreach plans

Fox News Latino: The Race for the Latino Vote Kicks Into High Gear in Florida

Washington Post:  The Fix

All eyes are on New Hampshire, the first in the nation Presidential Primary for the 2012 election. New Hampshire’s Latino voting population is small – only 1.9% of Granite State residents are eligible Hispanic voters.

Of the 37,000 Hispanics that call New Hampshire home, about half, 19,000 are eligible to vote. Here is the state breakdown: 73% Native-born, 37% Foreign-born, 35% Younger than 18 according the Pew Hispanic Center.

The GOP candidates are focused on engaging all potential voters, including Latinos. House Speaker Newt Gingrich, held an event on Sunday at Don Quijote’s Mexican Restaurant in Manchester aimed at engaging Hispanic voters. He brought along his daughter, who is fluent in Spanish, to the event according to Fox News Latino. 

Polls show that Hispanic are disappointed with President Barack Obama and his economic policies. Latino unemployment is at 11%, two points higher than the national average. Like many Americans, Hispanics are disillusioned with Obama’s failed promises and looking for an alternative in 2012. The RNC released a new video reminding New Hampshire voters of the promises the President made in the Granite state during his 2008 primary.