US president launches bid to woo Hispanic voters - GulfToday

US president launches bid to woo Hispanic voters


Donald Trump. File

US President Donald Trump, who officially launched his campaign for re-election this week, pitched himself to Hispanic voters on Thursday during an interview with the US Spanish-language network Telemundo.

“I love immigrants,” Trump said, when presenter Jose Diaz-Balart asked the president about his administration’s policies on child separation, on the DACA programme protecting people brought to the US illegally as children — which the president ended — and on his “zero-tolerance” border plans.

“You mean illegal immigrants,” Trump said. “Because I’ve been very good to immigrants.”

“This country is based on immigrants,” he said, insisting he’d welcome even more to help fill the industrial jobs he says he’s brought back to the US during his tenure.

During the interview — his first with a Spanish-language TV network — Trump boasted of his popularity among Hispanics, claiming a 17-per cent polling improvement among the group, and said his presidency has seen the lowest-ever rate of unemployment among Hispanics.

And that popularity is all thanks to his immigration and border policies, Trump said.

“Because Hispanics want toughness at the border,” he said. “They don’t want people coming and taking their jobs. They don’t want criminals to come, because they understand the border better than anybody.”

Asked about tweets earlier in the week in which Trump claimed that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) would begin deporting “millions of illegal aliens,” the president said he wasn’t just talking about people from Latin America.

“Many of them are from China,” Trump said. “Many of them are from other parts of the world that you wouldn’t even believe.”

Trump praised Mexico’s recent efforts to reduce the flow of migrants through their northern border into the US after the White House threatened the country with punitive tariffs.

And he said he believes 2020 Hispanic voters will appreciate his strong stances on Venezuela and Cuba.

“Because I’ve been tough on Cuba,” Trump said. “Not the way Obama did it, which was a disaster.”

Vice President Mike Pence is set to travel on Tuesday to Miami, home to a large Cuban immigrant community, to launch a pro-Trump initiative called “Latinos for Trump.”

The president himself kicked off his 2020 re-election campaign on Tuesday in Florida, a key state where the Hispanic vote is powerful.

Meanwhile, it is reported that a fish fry in South Carolina on Friday will draw the largest crowd of Democratic presidential candidates yet and give them a chance to gauge their support among black voters who will be a crucial voting bloc in the early primary state next year.

Twenty-two of the 24 major candidates seeking the party’s 2020 nomination will attend the gathering in Columbia hosted by US Representative Jim Clyburn, the highest-ranking black lawmaker in Congress.

The event acts as an unofficial kickoff to the Democratic primary race in South Carolina, giving contenders a chance to hobnob with Clyburn’s political network while attendees eat an estimated 4,400 pounds of fried fish and 6,400 slices of bread.

South Carolina holds the fourth nominating contest early next year, the first in which a significant proportion of the Democratic electorate — about 60 per cent — is black.

“It is the first place, and a real test case, for where people see where their support is with African American voters,” said Antjuan Seawright, a Democratic strategist who advised Hillary Clinton’s 2016 and 2008 presidential campaigns.

South Carolina swings strongly Republican, and its governor and two US senators are Republicans. A Democrat last won the state in a presidential election in 1976, and Republican President Donald Trump triumphed in South Carolina in 2016 with 54.9% of the vote.

With the Democratic race still in its nascent stages, political strategists say the state is any candidate’s to win.

Two contenders — US Senators Kamala Harris of California and Cory Booker of New Jersey — have invested heavily in South Carolina and view it as critical to their path to the nomination. But the candidates, who are both black and frequently discuss race during their campaigns, have not seen a corresponding bump in polls.