It’s sometimes best to evaluate a speech based on the degree to which it connected with its audience. If, for example, Donald Trump hoped his immigration speech last night would satisfy his admirers on the right-wing fringe, the remarks were a great success.
Former KKK leader David Duke cheered the speech last night, as did other white nationalists. Ann Coulter said on Twitter, “I hear Churchill had a nice turn of phrase, but Trump’s immigration speech is the most magnificent speech ever given.”
Of course, Trump already enjoyed the backing of conservative extremists; last night was an opportunity for the Republican nominee to follow through on his much-discussed “pivot” and appeal to a broader audience. How’d that work out? As Politico reported, not too well: some of the high-profile Latino surrogates who were on Team Trump are suddenly looking for the exits.
Jacob Monty, a member of Trump’s National Hispanic Advisory Council, quickly resigned after the speech. Another member, Ramiro Pena, a Texas pastor, said Trump’s speech likely cost him the election and said he’d have to reconsider being part of a “scam.” And Alfonso Aguilar, the president of the Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles, said in an interview that he is “inclined” to pull his support.“I was a strong supporter of Donald Trump when I believed he was going to address the immigration problem realistically and compassionately,” said Monty, a Houston attorney who has aggressively made the Latino case for Trump. “What I heard today was not realistic and not compassionate.”
Pena, a pastor at Waco’s Christ the King Church, added in a message to an RNC official that Trump’s Hispanic Advisory Council “seems to be simply for optics and I do not have the time or energy for a scam.”
Aguilar added, “We thought we were moving in the right direction… [W]e’re disappointed. We feel misled.”
Quoting an unnamed campaign adviser, a CBS reporter added this morning that “half of Trump’s Hispanic advisory board is ready to resign today.”
Remember, Mitt Romney lost in 2012 in part because he earned only 27% of the Latino vote, four points worse than John McCain’s total four years earlier. Republican officials were determined to see that number grow in 2016 – but at this point, Donald Trump appears to not only be struggling with this community, he’s also driving away the limited number of Latino backers he managed to cajole.
Postscript: Javier Palomarez, president of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, added on MSNBC this morning that Trump is “done for with the Hispanic community.”