Some are calling it Mitt Romney’s Latino problem. The Republican Party is about to unveil a party platform in Tampa, Fla., that takes a hard-line on issues important to many Latinos, particularly immigration. We speak to Republican delegates from Maryland and Virginia about the party’s strategy to woo Hispanic voters and where they feel Republicans may actually have an advantage.

Guests

  • Pilar Marrero Senior Political writer, La Opinion
  • Aleyda Kasten Virginia Delegate (Alternate) to the Republican National Convention; Member, Virginia Latino Advisory Board
  • Anthony O'Donnell Minority Leader (R-Calvert / St. Mary's); Maryland House of Delegates

A View From The RNC Floor

Kojo talked with Maryland Delegate Ellen Sauerbrey about immigration policy, the Republican Party’s challenge of appealing to Latino voters and what Mitt Romney needs to do to get votes from Maryland residents.

Transcript

  • 12:06:40

    MR. KOJO NNAMDIFrom WAMU 88.5 in Washington and live from WMNF in Tampa, Fla., welcome to the (technical difficulty). Some are calling it Mitt Romney's Latino problem. Polls show Obama has 63 percent of the Hispanic vote, while Mitt Romney is looking at just 28 percent. And, yesterday, the Republican Party unveiled a party platform in Tampa that takes a hard line on issues important to many Latinos, particularly immigration.

  • 12:07:16

    MR. KOJO NNAMDIProminent Republicans, including Karl Rove, Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush, have weighed in, saying that the party is doomed if it doesn't appeal beyond its base. So what is the party strategy to woo Hispanic voters, and where might Republicans actually have an advantage among Latinos? Joining us to discuss this in our studios at WMNF in Tampa, Fla., is Aleyda Kasten, an alternate delegate for Virginia to the Republican National Convention. She's also a member of the Virginia Latino Advisory Board. Aleyda Kasten, good to see you again.

  • 12:07:50

    MS. ALEYDA KASTENThank you.

  • 12:07:51

    NNAMDIAlso with us in studio is Anthony O'Donnell. He's a delegate for Maryland to the Republican National Convention. He is the minority leader in Maryland House of Delegates. Delegate O'Donnell, welcome. Good to see you again.

  • 12:08:03

    MR. ANTHONY O'DONNELLKojo, good to be with you.

  • 12:08:04

    NNAMDIAlso in studio with us is Pilar Marrero. She is the senior political correspondent for La Opinion, the largest Spanish-language newspaper in the U.S. Pilar Marrero, thank you for joining us.

  • 12:08:15

    MS. PILAR MARREROThank you for inviting me.

  • 12:08:16

    NNAMDIYou're welcome to join this conversation. You too can call us and -- at 800-433-8850. What do you think the Republican Party needs to do to win over Latino voters? 800-433-8850. You can send email to kojo@wamu.org or send us a tweet, @kojoshow, or simply go to our website, kojoshow.org, and join the conversation there. The GOP released the official Republican platform yesterday. What in it do you think the rally Republican voters in your state, Delegate O'Donnell?

  • 12:08:50

    O'DONNELLWell, I certainly think that the job creation is very, very important in this economy. Everybody knows that unless our families are secure with a good job, you know, it's downhill from there. We don't have that. So I would say that that's very appealing, of course, to everybody in the country, but specifically on the subject, there was also a piece in that platform that talked about the importance of the rule of law, and that we also know that if our families are not -- the rule of law is there to protect us, not to harm us.

  • 12:09:30

    O'DONNELLIt's to protect the greater good. And if we don't follow the rule of law, then it all becomes problematic for us in terms of protecting our families and our jobs and not having people exploit us. So the rule of law is very important in our nation, and we have to keep that first and foremost, too. And I think many of our Latino fellow citizens and people who are here would agree with that as well.

  • 12:09:53

    NNAMDIAleyda Kasten?

  • 12:09:57

    KASTENThe Hispanic workforce has contributed and grown in the U.S. economy. In fact, one of seven Latinos are members of their U.S. workforce, and yet, the Latino unemployment is 11.5, which is much higher than the 8.5 ratio, national ratio. The Latinos have contributed also to the economy -- 2.3 million businesses are around the country are owned by Latinos, and they employ 1.9 million workers.

  • 12:10:47

    KASTENAnd they produce $350 billion per year in sales, so the Latino has contributed. But the small business has a lot of problems with burdensome regulations that don't allow them to expand, and we need to have this regulations taken away so that Latinos can prosper more and more jobs will be created.

  • 12:11:29

    NNAMDIPilar Marrero, it is clear that this convention and this candidacy is going to focus on the economy and job, but, as we mentioned at the open, the Republican Party platform does include language that some Latinos may find as a turnoff. Do you think that the appeal of the economy and the possibility of jobs is likely to overcome that reluctance on the part of some Latinos?

  • 12:11:56

    MARREROI think it's -- it was better put by Jeb Bush on Sunday on "Meet the Press," if any of you saw him.

  • 12:12:03

    NNAMDISure.

  • 12:12:03

    MARREROYou heard him say this phrase: You can't call people to your cause when you're telling them they're not welcome here. It doesn't work that way. Yesterday, Jeb Bush met with Latino Republicans here in Tampa at a luncheon of the Hispanic Leadership Network, and he said, you know, the conservative philosophy should be the governing philosophy of the country if we stop doing and saying stupid things.

  • 12:12:30

    MARREROThese were his exact words. So he's a voice in the desert right now. Nobody is listening to him. The reality is, yes, the economy is number one issue for Latinos, but there's a branding problem for the Republican Party, and that's been shown in all the polls that you've done on Latino voters all over the country maybe with the exception of voters in Florida which -- whose makeup is a little bit different from the other voters of the rest of the nation. So it's a brand problem. It's an image problem. They don't -- they can't hear the whole message because the whole message is clouded by the immigration tone.

  • 12:13:06

    NNAMDI800-433-8850. Do you think the Republican Party in general and Mitt Romney in particular have a Latino problem or not? 800-433-8850. Last night, we caught up with Ellen Sauerbrey on the convention floor. She's a Republican delegate from Maryland, former minority leader in the Maryland House of Delegates, two-time candidate for governor. And she was head of the Department of State's Bureau of Population Refugees and Migration under the presidency of George W. Bush.

  • 12:13:36

    NNAMDIBut here's what she said to us on the floor. During the Bush administration, you were an assistant secretary of state, and one of the areas that you covered was migration. What does the Republican Party in general, and Mitt Romney in particular, have to do to appeal to the votes -- for the votes of Latinos in this country?

  • 12:14:00

    MS. ELLEN SAUERBREYLatinos are very entrepreneurial. They're hardworking people. In fact, I've talked to many people who will hire Latinos because they said they come to work on time. They work hard. And I think that the -- I think that Republican values translated in a way that Latinos understand what our party believes, what we stand for, the opportunities that we want to create, make Republicans very attractive look -- to Latinos. But we've got to really work harder to sell that message.

  • 12:14:32

    NNAMDII was about to say because there is the perception that the party tilts towards being anti-immigration. If you were advising Mitt Romney about how to change that perception, what advice would you give him?

  • 12:14:47

    SAUERBREYWell, my advice would be that we as a country are an immigrant country. We have always welcomed immigrants. My husband is a first-generation American, but we have also always stood for legal immigration. And my advice to him would be get that border secure so that we can then welcome people to come into this country legally as we always have.

  • 12:15:15

    NNAMDIEllen Sauerbrey, it's so good to see you. Thank you very much. Delegate O'Donnell, what do you think about what Ellen Sauerbrey had to say?

  • 12:15:23

    O'DONNELLWell, I think that's right. What one is -- we all know the work ethic of the Latino community. It's beyond anything that that anybody could expect. And so the notion that we create an environment for entrepreneurs to thrive, for businesses to thrive, for people to work is very important. But what Ellen also said was we need to secure our nation's borders. And I believe, Kojo, before we can have an adult rational discussion about how to solve some of these vexing problems that we need to have those borders secured.

  • 12:15:58

    O'DONNELLAnd the federal government has failed to secure our borders, and it's not just an immigration issue. It's a national security issue. We know that people in the world have ill will towards our nation. They drove planes into buildings and into the ground. They killed 3,000 of our fellow Americans. And these folks came from -- mainly from the Middle East, but we need to make sure that our borders are secure for a lot of reasons. And the federal government has failed in that.

  • 12:16:26

    O'DONNELLWe have the technology and capabilities to secure our borders. Then I think once that's done, we should begin a national dialogue on solving some of these other vexing problems.

  • 12:16:37

    NNAMDI800-433-8850 is the number to call. But nevertheless and in spite of that, Aleyda Kasten, polls show President Obama leads by double the margin of four years ago among Latinos. Does Mitt Romney, you think, have a Latino problem?

  • 12:16:59

    KASTENThere is a problem, but people -- I think Latinos should get to know their issues, and I agree with Mr. O'Donnell on national security. The Republican Party is for strong national security. We should secure our borders. Regarding the Latino problem, immigration, I don't think there is a big -- immigration has been a problem for decades. I don't see immigration as being a huge problem right now because people are not trying to come in.

  • 12:17:46

    KASTENThey're trying to get out. In fact, during President Obama's presidency, more than a million immigrants have left the country, so this is not -- right now, this is not a good atmosphere for Latinos to come into this country...

  • 12:18:07

    NNAMDISo you...

  • 12:18:07

    KASTEN...and be welcomed.

  • 12:18:08

    NNAMDISo you don't think that the problem is the immigration of Latinos right now, but the problem, obviously, continues to be, as you mentioned earlier, Pilar Marrero, a problem of brand or problem of perception. What kind of work do you see Mitt Romney having to do to improve his standing with Hispanic voters?

  • 12:18:27

    MARREROI think he started doing a little bit of it when he came down to Orlando to speak in front of the NALEO conference, which is a major Latino organization.

  • 12:18:36

    NNAMDIWhat does NALEO mean? National...

  • 12:18:37

    MARREROIt's the National Association of Latino Elected Officials.

  • 12:18:39

    NNAMDICorrect.

  • 12:18:39

    MARREROAnd so he came down and for the first time gave some new ideas -- or at least they were not that new, but for him they were new -- about expanding legal immigration, reunifying families, et cetera, et cetera. He gave certain -- some ideas. None of whom are in the platform, with the exception of the temporary workers program, which was put in the platform by the Romney people. Unfortunately, in the platform, you have things like -- and, you know, let's be clear, nobody cares about the platform, really.

  • 12:19:13

    MARREROWe only talk about it every four years, but the reality is that the stuff that it's in there is put there with the same people who push the policy in the states and in the Congress. So it does have an effect. For example, you have something that says that you should take federal money away from universities that allow undocumented students to get in-state tuition. So basically, you're saying we don't want to educate those kids, many of whom have been here since they were little. We will need them in the future.

  • 12:19:42

    MARREROWe will have a shortage of professionals in about five to 10 years. We don't want to educate these kids. I mean, that makes no sense to most Latinos. So things like that sort of collide and don't allow people to really listen to some of the new ideas that Mr. Romney is bringing, which are new also because during the primary he mentioned none of it.

  • 12:20:04

    NNAMDIWell, Delegate O'Donnell, nobody knows better than you about the relationship or lack thereof between the platform and with the presidential candidate. But it does appear that what Pilar is saying is that Mr. Romney will have, during the course of the rest of this campaign, to distance himself, if you will, from that platform. How do you think that he will able -- be able to effectively do that?

  • 12:20:25

    O'DONNELLWell, I think it's important, Kojo, to have some perspective, and what Pilar is saying is one way to look at a platform. But there's another platform that's going to be out there, too. There's going to be the platform of the Democrat National Committee, and the Democrat National Committee will have a platform that is replete with things that many in the Latino community disagree with very, very strongly.

  • 12:20:49

    O'DONNELLWe know the Latino community is very, very family oriented strongly. I know that personally. And there are things that are going to be in the Democrat National Committee that, you know, very conservative social issues oriented people, like many in the Latino community are, are not going to be happy with, they're going to disagree very strongly with. There's apparently going to be a plank on marriage and redefining marriage. There is a plank on choice and abortion.

  • 12:21:17

    O'DONNELLThese things are very troubling for many of the Latino community, and I think they're going to be challenged with both platforms. That's my perspective.

  • 12:21:25

    MARREROLet's talk about the numbers here. According to the studies, 65 percent of Latinos self-identify as Democrats. Only about 20 percent self-identify as Republicans, and another probably 15 to 20 percent as independents. The independents are growing, but still the Democrats overall are majority. So, yes, there is a 20 percent conservative Latinos -- conservative Republican Latinos, but they're not the majority. They're the minority. And that's where the problem of the Republicans for the future is.

  • 12:22:00

    MARREROYesterday, Jeb Bush Jr., the son, said to the audience, he said, can you imagine a blue Texas? That's our worst nightmare. And what they're saying is this is where we're going.

  • 12:22:13

    NNAMDIThere are so many Latinos in Texas that he doesn't want to visualize a blue Texas.

  • 12:22:18

    MARRERORight.

  • 12:22:18

    NNAMDILet's go to the telephones. Here is Brady in Charlottesville, Va. Brady, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.

  • 12:22:25

    BRADYOK. Quick correction: I believe it's Democratic National Committee, not Democrat National Committee. But my...

  • 12:22:33

    NNAMDIThat's a debate we've been hearing for years because what Brady is pointing out is that many Republicans refer to what some people call the Democratic Party as the Democrat Party. But go ahead, Brady.

  • 12:22:44

    BRADYYeah. My point has to do with immigration itself. As I understand it, under Obama, illegal immigration from the South has shrunken to nearly zero. So the first part of my question is, why are the Republicans emphasizing it? And the second is, why doesn't Obama remind us of that success? Thank you.

  • 12:23:10

    NNAMDII don't know why Obama does not remind us about that success because he is not here. But you -- we do have Republicans in the studio, and so our caller wants to know why are you emphasizing illegal immigration if it's not taking place at the levels that was years ago. Here is Elisa.

  • 12:23:26

    KASTENAleyda.

  • 12:23:27

    NNAMDIAleyda.

  • 12:23:28

    KASTENI wouldn't call that a success because in many counties in Virginia, the Latinos have left and the houses -- they had to leave their houses. So therefore, they have to foreclose the houses. And a lot of business owned by Latinos have been closed.

  • 12:23:51

    NNAMDIYou say that...

  • 12:23:52

    KASTENSpeaking on economics...

  • 12:23:56

    NNAMDIThat the fact that they have left and that a lot of the businesses they run have been closed has what affect, in your view...

  • 12:24:03

    KASTENAffect the economy.

  • 12:24:05

    NNAMDIOh, I see that -- if…

  • 12:24:07

    KASTENBecause they cannot pay for their mortgage and they have to leave. And…

  • 12:24:14

    O'DONNELLI will also add that, you know, the questioner wants to know why we are still talking about this, I think, if I had to boil it down. But clearly, it's been the discussion in the national discourse for years and years and years, and I don't believe it's going away.

  • 12:24:31

    KASTENIf I may add...

  • 12:24:31

    MARREROHere's the problem.

  • 12:24:32

    NNAMDISure.

  • 12:24:32

    MARREROWhen you talk about immigration and you immediately go to national security, that turns off Latinos. And here's the reason: There's never been a terrorist attack from somebody crossing the border from Mexico, OK? And we're talking about something completely different, people who are here illegally who came here to work, most of whom are good people, 1 million less undocumented people right now in this country because they were deported by President Obama.

  • 12:24:56

    MARREROHe has had a very aggressive deportation policy that many Latinos do not like. But it's been ignored by the Republicans. They're talking about one million Latinos leaving and...

  • 12:25:05

    O'DONNELLSo we shouldn't talk about national security? I think that turns off Latinos.

  • 12:25:08

    MARREROWell, national security, yes, should be talked about, but not just in the context of immigration.

  • 12:25:12

    O'DONNELLAnd so -- but I'm not going to sit and listen to that that we shouldn't talk about national security. We're proud of our national security.

  • 12:25:17

    MARREROThat's not what I said. I'm not a politician. I'm talking about facts.

  • 12:25:20

    O'DONNELLOK.

  • 12:25:21

    NNAMDIBut your turn, Delegate O'Donnell.

  • 12:25:22

    O'DONNELLWell, I'm just saying that I'm not going to quit talking about national security. I think it's very important. I'm proud of that. We have Latinos throughout our military. We're going to continue to talk about that.

  • 12:25:31

    MARREROThat's not what I said.

  • 12:25:31

    NNAMDIWell, here is the problem with national security according to Dan in Brookland in Washington, D.C. Dan, you're on the air. Go ahead, please. Dan, are you there?

  • 12:25:42

    DANYes. Hello?

  • 12:25:44

    NNAMDIGo right ahead, please, Dan. Yes.

  • 12:25:45

    DANYeah. No. I was calling in to say that, you know, I think the problem the Republican Party has at Latinos is their words and their rhetoric. You know, Latinos who are paying attention in the last year, you know, if they were paying attention are aware that the -- you know, the few times that we were brought up during the primary, you know, we were mentioned in terms of being a danger or a threat and people to be sent back.

  • 12:26:06

    DANYou know, we had a Republican primary candidate who joked about electrifying a fence. You know, Arizona is radioactive in the minds of most Latinos. I mean, the policies that that Republican-led state government has put through, it's akin to Mississippi in the 1960s for African-Americans. You know, that's what Arizona is sort of like shorthand for it.

  • 12:26:29

    DANMitt Romney, during the primary debate in Arizona, stood up when asked, crystal clear, said that Arizona was the model for what we should be doing in immigration policy. That is a flat turn-off to most Latinos who have, you know, who for most Latinos, with the exception of people in the southwest, you know, their story is one of immigrants, you know, legal and illegal.

  • 12:26:52

    DANAnd so it's the dehumanizing rhetoric that come out of that primary that's so disturbing for people, you know, for Latinos who were proud to be Americans, for Latinos whose parents and family members had been allied to the Republican Party. This is extremely distressing, divisive rhetoric. And to stop all this is...

  • 12:27:12

    NNAMDIDan, we got to move on and take a break, but thank you very much for your call. I think it's important to make a distinction that under the umbrella of Latinos, Colombians may have some different perspective than Mexicans, who may have some slightly different perspective from Puerto Ricans, who may have some slightly different perspective from Cubans. But what seems to draw Latinos together is the notion that they are all immigrants.

  • 12:27:36

    NNAMDIAnd I think, Delegate O'Donnell, if you say Latinos and national security in the same sentence, then people draw the connection that you are suggesting that Latinos and illegal Latino immigrants are a threat to our national security. I'm pretty sure you didn't want to say that.

  • 12:27:51

    O'DONNELLI was very clear when I talked about -- clear to say that I wasn't talking about any threats due to the immigration. I was talking about people and I specifically said who hailed from the Middle East who wanted to harm this nation who could use that as a port of entry. That's why we have port of entry requirements across not just our land borders but also our sea borders. And when people come in by air, we're very, very conscious about those borders for national security reasons.

  • 12:28:20

    O'DONNELLAnd that makes common sense, and nobody is suggesting that these folks who are coming here for economic purposes are a threat to national security. I clearly am not saying that.

  • 12:28:31

    NNAMDII wanted to give you the chance to make that point. We're going to take a short break, and when we come back, we will continue our conversation on the GOP and the Latino vote. If you have called and the lines are busy, you can go to our website, kojoshow.org, and ask your question or make your comment there. What do you think of Mitt Romney's position on immigration? What do you think is Mitt Romney's position on immigration? You can also send us a tweet, @kojoshow. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.

  • 12:31:00

    NNAMDIWelcome back. Later in the broadcast -- we're coming to you live from Tampa, Fla. Later in the broadcast, we'll be talking with the chairman of Tampa City Council on how this city runs and its immigrant traditions. Right now we're talking about the GOP and the Latino vote with Anthony O'Donnell. He's a delegate for Maryland to the Republican National Convention.

  • 12:31:18

    NNAMDIHe is the minority leader in the Maryland House of Delegates, and he will be running against Steny Hoyer in the -- Maryland Democrat Steny Hoyer, who is the House majority leader. He will be running against him in the...

  • 12:31:32

    O'DONNELLHe is the House minority whip.

  • 12:31:33

    NNAMDIHe's the House minority leader.

  • 12:31:34

    O'DONNELL(unintelligible). That's right.

  • 12:31:37

    NNAMDII am so confused today. He is the House minority whip, and he will be opposed by Anthony O'Donnell in the upcoming election. Also with us in studio is Aleyda Kasten, an alternate delegate for Virginia to this convention. She's also a member of the Virginia Latino Advisory Board. And Pilar Marrero is the senior political correspondent for La Opinion, the largest Spanish language newspaper in the U.S. We're taking your calls at 800-433-8850.

  • 12:32:05

    NNAMDIDelegate O'Donnell, five of the speakers here at the Republican National Convention, the more prominent speakers, are Hispanic, but the mayor of Los Angeles, Antonio Villaraigosa...

  • 12:32:17

    MARREROVillaraigosa.

  • 12:32:19

    NNAMDIVillaraigosa.

  • 12:32:19

    MARREROI'll do it for you.

  • 12:32:20

    O'DONNELLEasy for you to say.

  • 12:32:21

    NNAMDI...had some less than...

  • 12:32:22

    MARREROHe's my mayor, too.

  • 12:32:23

    NNAMDI...had some less than positive comments about that. He told reporters yesterday you just can't trot out a brown face or a Spanish surname and expect people to vote for you. Is this just window dressing by the Republicans?

  • 12:32:34

    O'DONNELLCome on. That's just an offensive statement. Look, Luis Fortuno of Puerto Rico is doing wonderful things with their economy. He's a proud Republican. We're proud of him as a Republican. And this vilification language that Villaraigosa -- however you say that...

  • 12:32:50

    MARREROLet's do it again.

  • 12:32:50

    KASTENVillaraigosa.

  • 12:32:51

    MARREROLet's do it again. Villaraigosa.

  • 12:32:53

    O'DONNELLI apologize to his honor, the mayor. But I got to tell you, it's offensive to us. We are not...

  • 12:32:58

    NNAMDIVillaraigosa.

  • 12:33:00

    O'DONNELLYou know, Luis Fortuno is bringing around the economy that was put in the tank. He is creating jobs. He's doing good things. Don't tell us we're window dressing. We're much more substantial than that.

  • 12:33:12

    NNAMDIWhat do you say to that, Aleyda Kasten?

  • 12:33:17

    KASTENWe are not window dressing. We are trying to -- the policies that have been -- for the Latinos have been involved in and that is said by President Obama and by all the politicians. But to talk about my experience with Latinos, I have relatives here in Tampa, and they are U.S. citizens. And three out of four are out of a job. So the economy has not been favorable for Latinos. I don't see why Latinos are so enamored of the Democratic Party when the Democratic Party is not doing much for them.

  • 12:33:59

    NNAMDIOn to Greg in Lorton, Va. Greg, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.

  • 12:34:04

    GREGHello, all. Good show. I just wanted to give a little perspective. I am currently engaged from -- to an immigrant who made her way here from Guatemala. And I can tell you -- she lives in Prince William County, and her personal experience with the government there was quite, I mean, how to put it -- she was given a very, very hard time simply because she was Latina over a property issue.

  • 12:34:32

    GREGAnd when I stepped in -- and I happen to be a Caucasian -- it all got turned around and got resolved very quickly. So this is some personal experience that some Latinos are experiencing with the government, whether at the local or even federal. And the fact of the matter is, unfortunately, the Republicans are window dressing. They did the same thing with Michael Steele. We all know it. Latinos know it. They're not, you know, they're very smart people.

  • 12:34:59

    GREGAnd also one thing I would like to address to the last woman who just spoke about why the Latinos may be enamored. I don't think they're not necessarily enamored with the Democratic Party. I realize that they are a more conservative group, and their values don't necessarily line up with some of the stuff of the Democratic Party. But I can tell you this, a lot of Latinos work in the construction industry, and they understand that it takes one day to destroy a house and a year to build one.

  • 12:35:22

    GREGAnd that's what President Bush and the Republicans did to our country. They destroyed it. And it will take many years and a lot of hard work, which I'm glad to have the Latinos here helping us rebuild our country. That's just the reality of it. So thank you very much.

  • 12:35:34

    NNAMDISo, Greg, you made a lot of...

  • 12:35:36

    GREGYes?

  • 12:35:36

    NNAMDI...broad statements, including which -- a lot of broad statements indicating that you have a lot more opposition to the Republican Party than merely on the issue of Latinos and immigration. But, Pilar Marrero, you wanted to a little bit about what happened in Arizona yesterday.

  • 12:35:54

    MARREROYeah. Because -- well, but, first of all, I wanted to comment about my major that -- and it is politics, OK? You know, the Republicans go to the Democratic convention, and they say stuff like this. Conventions are all about spin, and they are, for me, a show of politics. So that's what I think about that.

  • 12:36:11

    MARREROIn terms of Arizona, you know, the senator who was recalled a year ago, Russell Pearce, who was the one who put forth the Arizona law, the SB1070, anti-immigration Arizona law, tried to get re-elected again. And he was defeated in the Republican primary. What does that mean? Not even the local Republicans in Arizona want that kind of rhetoric and that kind of action anymore.

  • 12:36:38

    MARREROThey're tired of it. They're tired of the image that it's giving to their party. They're tired of the image it's giving to their state. So coming from the grassroots and from local elections, it seems to me that many Republicans are starting to realize what they need to do is to turn to people who are actually policy oriented and who are going to solve problems and not just talk about and blame immigrants for everything, which is what Russell Pearce did.

  • 12:37:04

    NNAMDIWell, Mitt Romney would probably argue, Delegate O'Donnell, that he is policy oriented. But even though the public generally pays more attention to the candidate than it does to the official party platform, a Pew Research Center poll says that people are very interested in the details of this Republican platform. Do you have any sense of why and if that's likely to last more than two or three more days?

  • 12:37:27

    O'DONNELLI mean, that's a good question, and I served on the platform writing committee in 2008 in Minneapolis. We took that document that -- excuse me -- had previously been a 40,000-word document and scaled it down to about half its size in Minneapolis of about 20,000 words. But I'm not sure it increased the readership anymore than the Democrat -- Democratic National Committee platform was read. But -- so I can't talk about the shelf life in people's minds on these, but every four years there is an interest.

  • 12:37:59

    O'DONNELLI think it is reflective of the values of the party on both sides. But I will say this, that job creation is something that we have to understand is important. It's important to every ethnic group, every demographic group in this country. And if we're not talking about job creation, people now -- and we're talking about -- we're actually advertising handout kind of programs. You know, that is not appealing to people who have a strong work ethic. I don't care what back -- ethnic backgrounds you're from.

  • 12:38:35

    O'DONNELLPeople do not want to have a entitlement mentality society. They're tired of handing out the money. We're basically blowing it down to come get the money from the government, and that's not popular in the Latino community, certainly not the Latinos that I talk to.

  • 12:38:52

    NNAMDI800-433-8850 is the number to call. President Obama has issued an executive order in June for the government to stop deporting people brought here as children who meets certain conditions. They're known as dreamers. Will that move likely bolster his support among Hispanic voters, Pilar?

  • 12:39:12

    MARREROIt's hard to tell because people are -- have been listening to what's happened on immigration under President Obama, how he has actually deported more people than President Bush in his two terms, how he has, you know, created more and more agreements with local police to stop people on the streets. I mean, President Obama has been really hard on immigration compared even to President Bush. And this is sort of a last-minute thing, and it's seen as an electoral thing, to a certain extent.

  • 12:39:49

    MARREROBut it's also -- at least, you know, people say, well, at least it's the reprieve from some of these kids who are getting deported, some of whom have been here since they were 1 years old, 2 years old, 6 months old, 8 years old. Now, this is something where both parties should really come together and get serious about passing something at the national level because there's a high pulling of support among all the U.S. citizens, all of the U.S., supporting some kind of solution for these kids who are brought here through no fault of their own.

  • 12:40:22

    NNAMDIDelegate O'Donnell, Maryland has, of course, been debating the state-level version of this, the DREAM Act. Can you remind us of where that legislation now stands?

  • 12:40:30

    O'DONNELLThat legislation will go before the voters of Maryland on Nov. 6. That's a ballot question, so the citizens of Maryland have petitioned that to referendum. The citizens themselves will decide on that. So that's where that question is, and I think Aleyda has...

  • 12:40:45

    NNAMDIAleyda has the last comment. Aleyda.

  • 12:40:47

    KASTENI have always questioned why President Obama waited until four months before election to do this small change. That is not going to really affect a lot of people because two years fly by. And as far as I know, college is four years. What are these people going to do in two years? It's not a solution. And being four months before election, that's just a political move.

  • 12:41:14

    NNAMDIAleyda Kasten is an alternate delegate for Virginia to the Republican National Convention. She's a member of the Virginia Latino Advisory Board. Anthony O'Donnell is a delegate for Maryland to the Republican National Convention. He's the minority leader in the Maryland House of Delegates. And Pilar Marrero is the senior political correspondent for La Opinion, the largest Spanish language newspaper in the U.S.

  • 12:41:36

    NNAMDIWe're going to take a short break. When we come back, we will be talking with the chairman of the Tampa City Council and how the city runs and its immigrant traditions. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.

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The Politics Hour – Nov. 21, 2014

Friday, Nov 21 2014Sorting political fact from fiction, and having fun while we're at it. Join us for our weekly review of the politics, policies and personalities of the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia.