The Mercury News

Why Latinos aren’t flocking to Clinton

- By Ruben Navarrette Ruben Navarrette is a syndicated columnist.

Given how intensely Latinos detest Donald Trump, many Democrats probably assumed that America’s fastest-growing group of voters would flock to Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton — and by such margins that Democrats running for Congress could ride her coattails.

This is not happening. With just a few weeks until Election Day, Democrats must look at the level of enthusiasm that Latinos have for Clinton and wonder: “Where’s the love?”

According to a recent article in The Washington Post, with support lagging among Latino voters for Clinton and congressio­nal candidates in key races, Democrats are worried that they’re squanderin­g the opportunit­y to lock down the Latino vote.

Clinton still holds a roughly 4-to-1 lead over Trump in polls, with nearly 80 percent of Latinos disapprovi­ng of the Republican nominee’s words, deeds, policies and character.

But what has Democrats concerned is that Clinton isn’t measuring up to where President Barack Obama was with Latino voters in 2012. And that enthusiasm gap could translate into a lower-thanexpect­ed turnout. That would really hurt Clinton in battlegrou­nd states with substantia­l Latino population­s such as Florida, Nevada, Arizona and Colorado.

When it comes to selling Latinos on her candidacy, Clinton just can’t close. Here are six reasons why:

Latinos are more cynical n than they were eight years ago, because Obama betrayed them. While running for president in 2008, Obama promised to make immigratio­n reform a top priority and blasted the George W. Bush administra­tion for deporting illegal immigrants. But once he got into office, Obama ratcheted up deportatio­ns to record levels.

With Latinos, a little n respect goes a long way. The Clinton campaign had early stumbles. First, it likened the former secretary of state to a Latino grandmothe­r, hoping that the emotion that Latinos have for one would transfer over to the other. That backfired, because many Latinos would just as soon leave their grandma out of politics. Then Latino Democrats began to call her “La Hillary.” That didn’t work, either. All the while, Clinton kept mentioning to Latino crowds that she loves hot sauce.

Latinos never forget. n Clinton was once a hardliner on immigratio­n, boasting to a conservati­ve New York radio host in 2003 that she was “adamantly against illegal immigrants.” And of course, in 2014, when more than 80,000 refugees from Central America — most of them women and children — crossed the border, Clinton sounded callous when she said that the youngsters “should be sent back.” She later softened her stance.

As Clinton has noted, n a Mexican proverb says: “Dime con quien andas y te dire quien eres.” (Tell me with whom you walk, and I will tell you who you are.) Voters are right to ask whether she shares the views of her husband, former President Bill Clinton, who militarize­d the U.S.-Mexico border in 1994 through Operation Gatekeeper and signed into law a dreadful immigratio­n bill in 1996 that made it easier to deport folks and harder for them to return.

Latinos know they’re n being ignored so Clinton and her surrogates can spend time courting working-class whites in the Rust Belt. The selection of Tim Kaine as Clinton’s running mate, as opposed to a Latino like Housing Secretary Julian Castro or Labor Secretary Tom Perez, symbolized the Democrats’ priorities.

Finally, according n to the Post, many Latino Democrats complain that the Clinton campaign was late rolling out Spanishlan­guage ads in key radio and television markets, in direct contrast to Obama’s 2012 campaign.

Democrats are learning a hard lesson. They assumed that the fact that Latinos hated Trump would translate into them loving Clinton. But in politics, it does not always follow that those who oppose your adversary are necessaril­y your allies.

You make allies by treating people with respect and not approachin­g them as an afterthoug­ht. Votes are earned. Like other Americans, Latinos don’t like being taken for granted. And before they give their support, it’s always nice to be asked.

Which brings us to the main reason that Hillary Clinton isn’t getting a warmer reception from Latino voters. Look around. She hasn’t earned it.

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