What did Southern California Latinos think of Republican debate?

By Martin Wisckol, The Orange County Register

Not all Latinos have run away from the Republican Party.

Some not only tuned into Wednesday’s GOP debate, but found candidates who resonated for them.

While the GOP’s immigration rhetoric in recent years is cited as a major cause for Latinos flocking to the Democratic Party, many continue to be attracted to the conservative values and small government ideals they hear from Republicans.

When it comes to immigration, some — like Newport Beach Republican Teresa Hernandez — would like the party to embrace a path toward legal residency for undocumented immigrants. Other conservative Latinos emphasize the need to secure the border and some focus on other issues.

The Register reached out to two Republicans, a conservative independent and a Democrat to hear what the four Latinos thought of the candidates after Wednesday’s prime time debate between the top 11 GOP candidates at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library.

“We saw 11 candidates who were well accomplished and successful in their perspective fields, well educated and passionate. I was able to get a better glimpse into how they would lead and what was important to them: Rand Paul is more of an isolationist. Trump would be the negotiator in chief. Carly will build up the military and will make her first call to our allies.”

“On immigration they all agreed on border security — but what to do with the 11 million? I disagree with Ted Cruz when he called Ben Carson’s guest-worker program ‘amnesty.’ We had a Bracerro program in the early 1960s and that was hardly amnesty.”

— Teresa Hernandez, Republican, Newport Beach, restaurant owner

“In terms of substance, Rand Paul again really set himself apart by emphasizing states’ rights, adherence to the Constitution and opposition to interventionism and more military involvement in the Middle East. If he can use those distinctions to pull away from the pack, his campaign will really pick back up.”

” Donald Trump seemed more subdued this evening. He had fight, but it was as if the brashness and arrogance had worn off, a little. He’s still Trump after all.”

” Carly Fiorina turned in a great performance and I wouldn’t be surprised to see her post much improved poll numbers.”

— Alex Burrola, Republican, Fullerton, public affairs specialist

” Donald Trump continues to mock well-qualified candidates and reminds me of Nancy Pelosi. We would have to vote him in to find out what he would actually do — a gamble we cannot afford. I was most impressed with is Jeb Bush with all his experiences and his connections. Sen. Rubio is my second choice.

“I believe each time a president steps outside the bounds of the Constitution, it divides the Americans and things get worse. We need to get the federal government out from where it was never intended.”

— Abie Garcia, independent, Santa Ana, retired appliance repairman

“The 2016 Republican presidential field has reawakened American xenophobia — Trump even takes credit for it. Trump’s proposed Mexican wall, his calling undocumented Mexicans ‘rapists’ and Scott Walker’s call to end birthright citizenship has the Latino community alarmed. Rightfully so.”

“Trump’s case that a wall be built to stem unwanted immigration and deporting 10 million-plus people was attacked by various presidential hopefuls calling his idea unfeasible. Yet, all the candidates uttered simple platitudes about the immigration issue.”

“I suspect not many Latinos were comforted by what they heard Wednesday evening. They will again feel their families and brethren targeted by Republican politicians, with Trump and Walker leading the way.”

— Lou Delgado, Democrat, Cerritos, photographer

Contact the writer: mwisckol@ocregister.com; @MartinWisckol


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