¿Quien es más Hispano? Rubio, Cruz, Castro or Bush

(Ralph Barrera/American-Statesman) Cruz and Castro at the 2012 Texas Tribune Festival.

(Ralph Barrera/American-Statesman) Cruz and Castro at the 2012 Texas Tribune Festival.

Good morning Austin:

I had a story in Saturday’s paper on the startling fact that, with Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, two of the first three announced candidates for the Republican presidential nomination for president are Hispanic.

In other words, if America elects its first Latino president in 2016, that president would almost certainly be a Republican.

Meanwhile, on the Democratic side, at best there could be a Hispanic candidate for vice president, with most of the speculation concentrated on Julián Castro, the former San Antonio mayor who is now serving as President Obama’s secretary of housing and urban development.

From that story:

No sooner had Hillary Clinton tweeted her intention last Sunday to seek the presidency than the speculation began that Julián Castro — bright, young and Hispanic — might be her ideal running mate in 2016.

“Julián Castro: Is He The Perfect Latino VP For Hillary Clinton?” asked the Los Angeles Times in its headline.

Or, as the Christian Science Monitor put the question, “Hillary Clinton-Julián Castro 2016: an already inevitable Democratic ticket?”

The instant hype about Clinton-Castro was soon eclipsed by Florida’s U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio’s announcement Monday in Miami that he was running for president, becoming the third big-name Republican to formally declare his candidacy and the second GOP Hispanic, along with fellow Cuban-American U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, to join the race.

Suddenly, the party with the supposed “Hispanic problem” had two rising young Hispanic stars in the presidential race. And, if nothing else, the Cruz and Rubio candidacies highlight the Democrats’ “Hispanic problem” — they have no Hispanic candidates playing at that level.

“What does that say? In my mind it says that the Republican Party is the party of opportunity for Latinos. It’s not the lip service that the Democrats have been shoveling out for years. It’s not the old beer parties and tamale parties anymore,” said Lionel Sosa, a veteran San Antonio advertising and political consultant and the dean of Hispanic Republicans in Texas. “It says the Republican Party is the natural party for Latinos. As Ronald Reagan told me back in 1979, Latinos are Republicans, they just don’t know it.”

(Ralph Barrera/American-Statesman) Julián Castro and Ted Cruz at the 2012 Texas Tribune Festival.

(Ralph Barrera/American-Statesman) Cruz and Castro at the 2012 Texas Tribune Festival.

Even beyond Cruz and Rubio, there is the incipient big-foot candidacy of Jeb Bush — Sosa’s favorite — whose wife, Columba, is Mexican-born, and who, whether out of a sense of family affinity, ethnic aspiration, mischief or simple inadvertence, identified himself as Hispanic on a 2009 voter registration application, and who, unlike Castro, speaks fluent Spanish.

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At 40, Castro’s credentials are comparatively light.

When President Barack Obama chose the former San Antonio mayor a year ago as his secretary of housing and urban development, it was heralded as grooming Castro for the national stage. But Castro, whose identical twin brother, Joaquin, is in his second term in Congress, presides over what for most Americans is a back-bench department with responsibilities that might deepen but not expand his limited issue portfolio.

That his name should spring to mind as an obvious vice presidential choice says much about the sparkle of his political persona, burnished by delivering the keynote address at the 2012 Democratic National Convention, an opportunity that eight years earlier catapulted Obama, not yet a U.S. senator, on his path to the White House.

The timing is right. Early in this century, Hispanics passed African-Americans as the largest U.S. minority, and the electoral math suggests that if Democrats can lock in big margins with Hispanics, they will be hard to beat in national elections.

But, considering how vital Latinos are to the party’s future, the fact that Castro leads almost any list of potential Hispanic running mates also says much about the surprising dearth of other Hispanic Democrats with national cachet.

The story raised a number of questions, so I decided to do one of our occasional First Reading Q and A’s, and as always with these Q and A’s, for quality control reasons, both the Q’s and A’s are my own.

QYour story suggests that Democrats’ Hispanic bench is not as deep as the Republicans’, with all attention focused on Julián Castro. But shouldn’t equal consideration be given to Joaquin Castro, which would both be fairer to him and instantly augment the bench?

FR – You’re quite right. It seems wrong, and almost hurtful, that Julián Castro should be the anointed one when his brother has what would appear to nearly identical political skills, and a comparable, if not identical, resume – and all, it seems, because Joaquin arrived a minute later than Julián.

There was fascinating profile earlier this year of the brothers Castro in National Journal by Andy Kroll: The Power of Two: America has never seen a political team quite like the Castro brothers.

The story recalls a visit that the Castros paid Lionel Sosa in the summer of 1999:

Sosa didn’t know the Castro brothers, but he did know not to expect right-wingers. Their mother, Rosie Castro, had been a fiery community organizer in San Antonio during the Chicano movement of the 1960s and ’70s; after an unsuccessful run for city council in 1971, three years before Joaquin and Julián were born, she’d remained a political force in San Antonio, chairing the county chapter of La Raza Unida, a Chicano third party, and running other progressives’ political campaigns. The twins had grown up tagging along to rallies, parades, and political functions. As Julián recalled in a college essay later published in an anthology called Writing for Change, political slogans “rang in my ears like war cries”: “Viva La Raza!” “Black and Brown United!”

It was Rosie Castro who had reached out to Sosa; the two had met at a forum on the future of Latinos in America. Her boys, she told him, were planning to return to San Antonio and pursue some kind of public service after they graduated. Would Sosa mind speaking with them?

Joaquin and Julián sat down in the trailer, Sosa says, and began to pepper him with questions: Where do you think San Antonio is headed? Who should we know? After a while, Sosa turned the tables and asked them one: What did they see in their futures? The way Sosa remembers it, the brothers broke out into big grins and told him, in unison, “We’re going to be mayor of San Antonio.”

“We’re going to be mayor?” Sosa said. “Which one?”

“One of us will,” said one of the brothers.

Sosa, who’s now semiretired, can recount little else about the conversation that day, or what counsel he gave the Castros. But their joint reply, he says, stuck with him: “That’s the one thing that got seared into my mind. They knew what they wanted in life.” And they knew that they wanted to attain it together.

Kroll writes that the Castros say Sosa’s story is apocryphal.

As undergraduates at Stanford University:

In their junior year, both brothers ran for the student senate on the left-leaning People’s Platform—and another mythmaking moment was born. There were 10 seats open, in a multicandidate race. Joaquin and Julián created separate campaign fliers, but posted them in the same strategic spots around campus—bathroom stalls. (Fraga, who became their senior adviser and then a friend, still calls them the “Stall Twins.”) On election day, the brothers earned exactly the same number of votes—811—on their way to being the top vote-getters.

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In the fall of their senior year, when Joaquin was hired as a resident assistant in his dormitory, he felt, for the first time, the weight of following in his brother’s footsteps. (Julián had been an R.A. the year before.) “I don’t think I did as well in the job,” Joaquin says, “because I felt like I could [only] get the job because he had done it.”

In politics, too, it was becoming clear that Julián—the elder brother by one minute—would go first. By their third year at Harvard Law, Julián had already decided to run for the San Antonio City Council.

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Fifteen years after visiting Sosa, the Castro brothers’ political horizons have broadened well beyond San Antonio. Joaquin, after a decade in the Texas House, won a seat in Congress in 2012 and soon became a fixture on Sunday talk shows, a go-to surrogate for President Obama’s immigration and economic policies. But the spotlight shines most intensely on Julián, the San Antonio mayor who vaulted into the national consciousness with his keynote address—the first by a Latino—at the 2012 Democratic National Convention. Last year, when Julián left the mayor’s job to join Obama’s Cabinet as Housing and Urban Development secretary, the move stirred widespread speculation that he was being positioned as a potential 2016 vice presidential pick for likely nominee Hillary Clinton. Barring that, Texas Democrats have long envisioned Julián—or maybe Joaquin?—as the state’s first Latino governor. Or as a U.S. senator. Or maybe both.

“The whole idea that they could be governor, senator, vice president, president—it excites people,” Rosie Castro told me. “Everybody is waiting for the first Latino governor of Texas. Everybody is waiting for that first Latino president or vice president.” And no two Democrats are better placed to realize such expectations than Rosie’s sons. The Republican Party, despite its struggles to attract Latino voters, has more Latino politicians with national profiles and prospects—Sens. Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, for starters, along with Govs. Susana Martinez and Brian Sandoval. For Democrats, at least for the time being, such hopes hang mostly on the Castro brothers.

Attention Hillary. If you’re going to vet Julián, why not vet Joaquin as well.

 

QYou write that Julián Castro’s vice presidential credentials are comparatively light. Compared to whom? Sarah Palin? Dan Quayle? Admiral Stockdale?

FR – Fair point.

But, as limitless as Castro’s potential may be, most vice presidents and vice presidential candidates have had greater and broader experience

Eisenhower chose Nixon. Kennedy chose Johnson. Nixon had Henry Cabot Lodge. Johnson had Humphrey.

Goldwater chose William Miller, a congressman from upstate New York, which did nothing to improve his chances.

From Miller’s New York Times obit:

Asked by The Associated Press what qualities in Mr. Miller impressed him most, Senator Goldwater replied: ”He was an outstanding member of Congress; he was one of the best national chairmen of the Republican Party we have ever had; he was a hell of a gin rummy player and a good poker player. He was the kind of a man other men like to be with. I think that’s the best way to put it.”

Nixon had Agnew. That didn’t end well for either of them. Humphrey had Muskie, a formidable figure. McGovern had Eagleton, which didn’t end well, and then Shriver. Ford had Rockefeller and then Dole. Carter had Mondale, a future party nominee. Reagan had Bush.

Mondale had Ferraro, which was a bit of a stretch aimed at making history. At 37, Henry  Cisneros, Castro’s mentor and forerunner both as San Antonio mayor and HUD secretary, was a finalist for the job that year. Dukakis had Bentsen. Bush had Quayle, a weak choice. Clinton had Gore. Perot had Stockdale and Pat Choate.

Dole had Kemp, who, like Castro, served as secretary of housing and urban development but also had served nine terms in Congress and had run for president. Gore had Lieberman. Bush had Cheney. Kerry had Edwards – in retrospect a really terrible and irresponsible pick. Obama chose Biden. McCain, to I’m sure his everlasting regret, had Palin, and Romney had Paul Ryan.

In that pack, I think Castro would rate as less ready than most.

Think of it this way?

A vice presidential candidate ought to, ultimately, be someone who could credibly serve as president, which also means that they are someone who could credibly run for president.

By that standard, tt’s hard to imagine Julián Castro being taken seriously as a candidate for president right now.

And this. For Saturday’s story I talked with Louis DeSipio, a professor of Chicano/Latino Studies at the University of California, Irvine. He said:

 A risk for Castro as a future leader is that, because the Democrats have usually been short on Latino leaders they have pulled people up a little too quickly and not let them get seasoned enough. It happened with Henry Cisneros, who as early as ’84 I this was sort of – he’s going to be that Hispanic leader –  and he had some problems. Maybe they would have happened anyway, but it probably didn’t help that he was being told  from a relatively young age that he was presidential timber, vice presidential timber.

From a Reuters story by Jim Forsyth at the time that Castro was chosen to keynote the 2012 Democratic convention:

Castro also realizes he is not the first young San Antonio mayor who has been tagged for greatness.

Thirty-one years ago, Henry Cisneros was elected as the first Hispanic mayor of the city, and later was on former vice president Walter Mondale’s short list of vice presidential choices in 1984.

But Cisneros saw his political hopes crash amid revelations of an affair with a staffer, an FBI investigation into whether he lied about payments he made to the woman, and an indictment for conspiracy and obstruction of justice.

Cisneros pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor of lying to the FBI, and was pardoned by former President Bill Clinton

When I talked with Sosa he said that while Castro has a great future, if Rubio, Cruz or Bush is the Republican nominee in 2016,, “That changes the entire dynamic. If any one of those three is the Republican candidate then Julián Castro is going to  have less impact, as attractive as he is, and he certainly is an attractive candidate.”

 

Is Jeb Bush Hispanic?

FR – No, but …

From the New York Times:

There is little doubt that Jeb Bush possesses strong credentials for appealing to Hispanic voters.

He speaks fluent Spanish. His wife, Columba, was born in Mexico. For two years in his 20s, he lived in Venezuela, immersing himself in the country’s culture. He was born in Texas and is a former governor of Florida, two states with large Hispanic populations.

But on one occasion, it appears, Mr. Bush may have become a bit carried away: He listed himself as Hispanic on a 2009 voter-registration application in Miami-Dade County.

A Bush spokeswoman said she had no explanation. But Mr. Bush went on Twitter on Monday to say:

Here, though it’s a bit hard to make out, is the voter registration form.

 

Screenshot 2015-04-19 20.41.32

A little background from International Business Times:

Bush, an early front-runner in the 2016 race, is the son of former President George H.W. Bush and the brother of ex-President George W. Bush. He was governor of Florida from 1999 to 2007. Both Jeb Bush’s father and mother are Caucasian. His wife, Columba, is from Mexico. Jeb Bush speaks fluent Spanish, which he has used on the campaign trail and is expected to be an asset in courting Hispanic voters.

Hispanics helped propel Jeb Bush to the governorship in 1998, when 61 percent of Hispanic voters cast a ballot for him. He had similar numbers in his re-election campaign in 2002, when 57 percent of Hispanics voted for him, according to the Center for Immigration Studies. Florida’s Hispanic community is dominated by Cubans, who generally vote Republican, although tides are shifting. In 2002, 64 percent of Cuban voters identified as Republican, according to a Pew Research Center poll. In 2013, 47 percent of Cubans identified as Republicans, according to the same survey.

Jeb’s success in insinuating himself into the Hispanic mind is a source of frustration to the liberal watchdogs at Media Matters as evidenced by this report from earlier this year: Latino Media Tout Jeb Bush As A “Hispanic Candidate” While Glossing Over His Important Policy Positions. Outlets Quiet On His Opposition To Obamacare And Denial Of Climate Change

Following former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush’s announcement that he is exploring a 2016 presidential run, Hispanic media outlets have celebrated his Mexican-American family and fluency in Spanish, portraying them as appealing to Latino voters. This focus on biographical details has come at the expense of reporting on Bush’s positions on health care and climate change — issues on which his positions are at odds with the interests of most Latinos.

For instance, Jorge Ramos, host of Univision’s Al Punto, helped feed the narrative of Bush as a “Hispanic candidate” (Spanish-language video clip) during a January 18 conversation with Carlos Gutierrez, who was commerce secretary under George W. Bush. Throughout the discussion, Ramos left Bush’s policy stances unquestioned, relying on Gutierrez’s glowing review of Bush’s personal leadership qualities. At one point, Ramos suggested that Bush could be grouped with other potential Republican presidential candidates who are Latino.

Other Spanish-language outlets like the newspaper El País have also credited Bush’s Mexican wife and children with making him a “Hispanic candidate,” calling these personal factors an “advantage” to win the Latino vote. Briefly glossing over his “moderate” foreign policy stances — a popular trope in English-language media — El País highlighted Bush’s Mexican wife yet again to address Bush’s claims that he is not like his brother George W. Bush. MundoFox, a Spanish-language cable channel that is partly owned by Fox News’ parent company, has celebrated Bush’s ability to speak Spanish fluently as well as his Mexican wife to position him as a GOP front-runner several times since Bush’s announcement in December.

When Hispanic media outlets do cover Bush’s policy positions, they rarely go beyond the single issue of immigration. And while it is encouraging to see positive coverage of Bush’s multicultural family and bilingualism, a review of Al Punto episodes and close monitoring of El País’ and MundoFox’s websites following Bush’s announcement reveal that they have not covered his conservative stances on climate change and health care reformd

WASSERMAN CARTOON JEB BUSH; VOTER-REGISTRATION APPLICATION

WASSERMAN CARTOON JEB BUSH; VOTER-REGISTRATION APPLICATION

But Ben Railton, an associate professor of English at Fitchburg State University, wrote at Talking Points Memo, that maybe we are entering a new age of ethnic choice.

Supporting Bush’s ability to define his identity however he chooses would be the philosophies advanced by David Hollinger in his groundbreaking book Post-ethnic America: Beyond Multiculturalism (1995). Assessing what he saw as the important effects, yet also the limits, of multicultural visions of identity and community, Hollinger made the case for “voluntary affiliations,” self-identifications based on choice and will rather than simply heritage or descent. In many ways the two decades since Hollinger’s book, and especially the six years since President Obama’s inauguration, have seemed to illustrate just how much we are not yet post-ethnic (or post-racial, in Obama-era parlance). Yet one possible response to those continued racial and ethnic conflicts and divisions would be to return to voluntary affiliations as a communal goal, and thus to define both Obama’s famous checking of “African-American” on the 2010 census and Bush’s self-identification as “Hispanic” as examples of precisely such individual choices.

On the other hand, those two actions significantly differ, and not only because of how consistently Obama has been defined from the outside as African-American compared to how rarely, if at all, Bush has been defined as Hispanic. In Obama’s case he was voluntarily affiliating with one part of his heritage and identity, that descended from his father, whereas no part of Bush’s heritage links him to the Hispanic American community. As such, if Bush did choose to self-identify as Hispanic, he was participating in a kind of cross-racial performance, the adoption of a non-white identity by a white American, that has its own long and complex national history.

Q – Is Ted Cruz Hispanic?

FR – Yes, but

From Aaron Blake in theWashington Post in 2013:

Former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson (D), a leading Hispanic voice in the Democratic Party, said Sunday that Republican Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) shouldn’t be considered a Hispanic.

Asked in a web interview with ABC’s “This Week” whether Cruz represents most Hispanics, Richardson said the senator does not. Then he went a step further and suggests Cruz himself shouldn’t be labeled as Hispanic.

“He’s anti-immigration. Almost every Hispanic in the country wants to see immigration reform,” Richardson said. “I don’t think he should be defined as a Hispanic.”

Cruz’s father is Cuban, and his mother is white.

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Updated at 12:01 p.m. Tuesday: Richardson said in a subsequent interview with Fox News that his comments were misunderstood.

“I said that he shouldn’t be defined as a Hispanic,” Richardson said. “I’m a Hispanic and I don’t define myself as just as a Hispanic. So, that was misinterpreted.”

He added: “We disagree on immigration, but all I was saying is I don’t consider myself just a Hispanic and he shouldn’t be defined just as a Hispanic. We’re other things. That’s what I said.”

OK, so, I guess, never mind.

But Media Matters found that the same Hispanic media, which was so ready and eager to accept Bush’s Hispanicity, seemed ready to excommunicate Cruz.

La Opinión: Cruz’s “Agenda And Style” Have Made Him “Incompatible With The Hispanic Majority.” As Spanish-language newspaper La Opinión pointed out, Cruz is the third Latino to officially announce a run for presidency in U.S. history, but his “presence opens the door to the question of whether it is enough to have a Spanish-speaking or Latino candidate to gain support of the Hispanic community.” Moreover, the editorial argued, Cruz’s “agenda and style” make him “incompatible with the Hispanic majority.” [La Opinión, 3/26/15]

El País: Cruz May Be Latino And Speak Spanish, But He Does Not “Crusade” For This “Identity.” Spanish-language newspaper El País criticized Cruz for his policies, writing (in Spanish), “while he is Latino and speaks Spanish, he doesn’t crusade with this identity and is opposed to measures that would legalize Latin American immigrants.” [El País, 3/23/15]

Huffington Post Latino Voices: Cruz “Doesn’t Represent Latino Public Opinion” On The Affordable Care Act. Huffington Post Latino Voices reported on multiple ways in which Ted Cruz’s views “diverge from prevailing opinion among Hispanics,” noting that despite the fact that 47 percent of Hispanics support the health care law, Cruz “appears likely” to make repealing the ACA a focal point of his campaign. [Huffington Post Latino Voices, 3/24/15]

La Opinión Highlights Cruz’s “Two Faces” With Spanish-Speaking And Non-Spanish Speaking Voters. La Opinión criticized Cruz’s “two faces” on immigration, arguing that he switches his messaging for Latino and non-Latino voters. The paper noted that in his campaign ads, Cruz “celebrates his Hispanic heritage, but omits his attacks on undocumented immigrants” in Spanish, while in English Cruz falsely calls Obama’s immigration actions “illegal and unconstitutional amnesty.” [La Opinión, 3/24/15]

Univision 41 (San Antonio): Hispanics “Reject” Presidential Candidate Ted Cruz, Largely Due To His Anti-Immigration Reform Policy Positions. According to Univision41.com, Hispanics have rejected Cruz, accusing him of “holding anti-immigrant positions.” More specifically, immigration rights activists like the Dream Act Coalition said: “While Ted Cruz has a Hispanic name and an immigration background in his past, that is where all of the similarities between him and the Latino community stop.” [Univision41.com, 3/23/15]

Despierta America: Cruz’s “Latino Last Name” And Background Cannot Distract Hispanic Voters From His Anti-Immigrant Positions. During the March 23 edition of Univision’s Despierta America, Newsport reporter Danay Rivera explored reactions to Cruz’s presidential announcement, noting that “getting the Latino vote would be really hard for him as he hasn’t precisely championed the interests of Hispanics.” Co-host Ana Patricia Gonzalez opened the segment by highlighting Cruz’s Latino and immigrant background, noting that he has become known for his “anti-immigrant policies.” [Univision, Despierta America, 3/23/15]

In August 2013, Rodger Jones, an editorial writer at the Dallas Morning News, contemplated the question, Is Ted Cruz not a Hispanic?

I told my friend Ralph De La Cruz that he puzzled me the other day where his fellow Cuban-American Ted Cruz is concerned, and I’d be writing about it here.

It goes like this: Ralph is a real Cuban, having left that country under a tarp on a fishing boat. So you might say he’s got cred.

Last week our editorial board was discussing the Sunday editorial that eventually whacked Cruz around for his “political opportunism” and other sins.

I didn’t have a lot to say, since that train was on the tracks and would only run over me. One comment I did make caused Ralph to gasp and arch his already prominent eyebrows.

It came when I called Cruz a “Hispanic.”

Ralph wasn’t going there. With all eyes in the room on him, Ralph, winced, shifted in his chair and groped for a comeback.

Finally, he said, trying to correct me: “He’s a Canadian.”

Yes, true. But as I told Ralph later, I thought there was something else at work. I thought it might be that familiar reluctance to grant minority status to a conservative Republican whose politics don’t align with typical Democratic alliances.

It’s a common way to stigmatize and de-legitimize black politicians, in particular. Stray from orthodox politics, and a black politician becomes an Uncle Tom.

Ralph dished out something I hadn’t expected. I don’t know what the Hispanic counterpart is to “Uncle Tom,” but I wasn’t expecting “Canadian.”

From the comments section on Jones’s piece:

George Chacon
True Hispanic is ideally bi-culture and bi-lingual. Spanish/native Indian/ creating a nationality eg. Mexican, Cuban, Puerto Rican. If he got roots in Canada it does not negate bi-cultural since Indian ancestry came from old world across bearing strait/ or pacific ocean.Cruz is politically, more Uncle Tom, pardon, TioTaco:That is by choice, to represent the 1 % upper class entities. He is turning his back on American Indian/ hard working middle class Hispanics. So Yes, he does not speak for us! Though entitled to represent whomever he wishes. We have a right to call him what he truly represents, He is a true “Tio Taco” for those who do not habla, Uncle Tom.

When I talked to state Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer, D-San Antonio, he had another word for Cruz:

Ted Cruz, you could take words out of his own mouth where he has said he has never wanted to be the Hispanic candidate.

Hispanics like a lot of things. They like seeing their reflection in the mirror in national politics, but they also like seeing themselves as being valid and having a significance in the national discussion. When you have the appearance of a Latino candidate in the Republican Party that doesn’t acknowledge the hard work and accomplishments and the needs and concerns of the Hispanic community, there is not an Hispanic who is going to forsake all these important issues to say, “I’m going to put all these aside, because we’re going to make history with an Hispanic commander in chief.”

In our community they call that a vendido. In any culture, nobody appreciates a sellout.

For an alternative take, here’s Ruben Navarette writing at the Daily Beast.

So how “Hispanic” is Ted? For those Americans who believe that President Obama is “post racial,” it’s tempting to say that Ted is “post-Hispanic.”

Unlike Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida and New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez, my friend doesn’t speak Spanish. He doesn’t make a habit of speaking to Hispanic organizations or attending their events. While most Hispanics are Catholic, he’s a Southern Baptist. And he doesn’t pursue an agenda that is centered around “Hispanic issues.”

Moreover, as I mentioned, during his two years in the Senate, Ted has become a vocal opponent against immigration reform, which he derisively calls “amnesty”—even though such a policy change is supported by the majority of Hispanics.

But there is another side to Ted. While at Harvard Law School, he wasn’t just a primary editor of the Harvard Law Review but also a founding editor of something called the Harvard Latino Law Review.

In the years when I’d run into him at gatherings or conferences, while he was a lawyer in private practice and before he ran for the Senate, he was always surrounded by what seemed to be his closest friends: other Hispanic Republicans.

While running for the Senate in 2012, he liked to share, on the stump, a story about a friend who asked him: “When was the last time you saw a Hispanic panhandler?” Ted responded that he wasn’t sure he had ever seen one of those. He shared the story to make a point about how self-sufficient Hispanics were, if they could be rescued from the clutches of government.

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And just a few weeks ago, National Review reported that Ted has a plan to run for president in 2016 that builds on his Hispanic support. According to the magazine, internal polling in Texas shows that 40 percent of Hispanics support the state’s junior senator. Any Republican who gets 40 percent of the Hispanic vote in the general election will win the White House.

How Hispanic is Ted Cruz? In the end, I have no idea. That’s a personal matter. Only he knows for sure. But from what I’ve seen, and heard directly from him, he’s as Hispanic as any of us and more Hispanic than many of his critics.

Ted is obviously proud of his father, and the journey that brought him to the United States. I also think he’s proud of his heritage, culture, and community. He doesn’t wear his ethnicity on his sleeve, but he seems proud to be Cuban-American.

My friend showed off that pride in December 2013 in Johannesburg, South Africa. While attending the memorial service for Nelson Mandela, he found himself in the audience while Cuban President Raul Castro approached the podium to speak. And Ted did what most Cuban-Americans would do in that situation: He got up and walked out.

That’s what I call “authentic.”

 Florida Sen. Marco Rubio speaks at the University of Texas on April 15, 2014. (RICARDO B. BRAZZIELL / AMERICAN- STATESMAN)

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio speaks at the University of Texas on April 15, 2014. (RICARDO B. BRAZZIELL / AMERICAN- STATESMAN)

QWhy does Rubio come off as more Hispanic than Cruz?

FR – Rubio rose to power as a Cuban-American in a city and state where Cuban-Americans are a large and politically powerful presence and, for many years, a mainstay of the Republican Party thanks to their anti-Castro anti-communism.

Cuban-Americans are less dominant in Florida than they once were.

From Florida Trend:

Cubans, once the majority of Hispanic Floridians, have become a plurality, down to 29% of the Hispanic population, as other groups grow faster.

But they remain very important.

And they are less reliably Republican. In 2012, Obama won nearly half the Cuban-American vote in Florida. But they still surround Rubio with a strong and vibrant Latino base of support that Cruz doesn’t have in the same way in Texas.

Cruz’s hometown of Houston is among the most diverse in the world, but Miami is a mostly Latino city.

From NBC:

Miami is a majority Latino city — 70 percent of its population is Hispanic. And while Cuban-Americans still comprise over half of the city’s population — 54 percent — the city’s Hispanic composition is changing. According to a Pew Hispanic report, about 13 percent of Miami-Dade’s Latinos are from Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and Mexico, and 32 percent are from other Central and South American countries such as Guatemala, Colombia, El Salvador, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Honduras and Brazil.

“Miami has a high share of foreign-born Hispanics compared with many of the other metro areas — 66 percent of Miami’s Latinos are foreign born,” according to Eileen Patten, a research analyst at the Pew Research Center.

Meanwhile, Cubans are a negligible presence in Texas, and the fact that Cuban-Americans and Mexican-Americans both happen to be Hispanic – mostly a political and census category of convenience – doesn’t mean that there is some overriding natural affinity.

From the Pew Research Center:

Cubans are far more likely than other Hispanics to identify themselves as white when asked about their race. In the 2004 Census data, about 86% of Cubans said they were white, compared with 60% among Mexicans, 53% among other Central and South Americans and 50% among Puerto Ricans.

In the Census data, a third or more of Mexicans, Puerto Ricans and other Hispanics chose “some other race” when answering this question. But among Cubans, only 8% chose “some other race.”

A 2004 report by the Pew Hispanic Center concluded that Latinos who identify themselves as white and those who say they are some other race have different characteristics. Survey data also show that Latinos in these two groups have different attitudes and opinions on a variety of subjects. Hispanics who identify themselves as white have higher levels of education and income and than those who choose “some other race.” The report said the findings suggest that Hispanics see race as a measure of belonging and “whiteness” as a measure of inclusion, or perceived inclusion.

Also, there is a certain historical tension between Cubans and other Hispanics because of the difference in how they were received by the Why does Marco Rubio seem more Hispanic than Ted Cruz:

Gustavo Arellano, the editor of OC Weekly, an alternative newspaper in Orange County, California, who writes the nationally syndicated column, “¡Ask a Mexican!,” explained in the Guardian:

It’s not that Latino voters don’t respect the stories of Cruz and Rubio, whose parents came from working-class roots to achieve the American dream. Nor is it necessarily Latinos’ supposed hatred of Cubans, as some pundits try to paint it: go to Dodger Stadium, and see how the Chicano crowds cheer on outfielder Yasiel Puig, or go to any fiesta and hear Perez Prado, Celia Cruz, and Beny Moré draw people to the dance floor.

Rather, many Latinos don’t like that Cruz and Rubio represent the politics of Cuban immigration to los Estados Unidos, a saga far different from that of virtually every other Latino group.

Blame the White House’s Cold War game for the divide between Cuban Americans and other Latinos in America, not traditional Latin American rivalries. While Latinos who escaped sometimes-unfathomable violence in their countries – Central Americans during the 1980s, South Americans during their dirty wars, or Mexicans during this decade’s narcoterrorism – were rarely granted refugee status because American allies inflicted the violence they’d fled, Cubans famously received the red carpet treatment when fleeing Castro’s Cuba in the 1960s and beyond. Latinos who came to el Norte illegally for economic reasons had to evade la migra; Cubans who arrived after the initial wave were subjected to America’s infamously simple Cuban immigration policy: make it to land, and you can stay. (Haitians certainly didn’t have it so easy.) Because of the double standard, many Latinos have long cast Cubans as entitled recipients of a hand-up that the rest of us never got. And, Cuban-Americans’ embrace of the Republicans who welcomed them while demonizing all other Latinos also created a political rift in the Latino community that any Cuban-American politician running outside of Florida and New Jersey must confront.

That chasm, undeserved or not, would’ve already weighed down Cruz and Rubio before they even tried to court Latino voters. Then we get to their actual politics. Cruz is a blip in Latino popular culture, both because of his alignment with the evangelical fringe of the GOP and because his Spanish is virtually non-existent. The latter isn’t a fair knock, and Cruz did have a great comeback in 2010 when explaining why he wouldn’t do a debate on Univisión: his Spanish wasn’t great and “That’s the world in which I grew up, and that’s a world in which a lot of second-generation immigrants find themselves”. But refusing to speak Spanish will draw snickers all along the campaign trail, especially when Jeb Bush can speak better Spanish than most Democratic Latino politicians.

Rubio, on the other hand, would seem to be a Latino dream candidate: young, fluent in Spanish, directly tied to the immigrant experience and even self-deprecating. His advisors are even whispering about how his pop culture fluency will particularly appeal to young Latinos. But Latino millennials are the exact group that Rubio has antagonized the most, because on immigration, Rubio went from being somewhat sympathetic to the plight of undocumented youth to blabbering about closing borders before anything else.

His new hard-line approach brought the scorn of young immigration reform activists, who seem to take glee in rattling him. On this issue, the supposed Latino hive mentality comes to bite Rubio in the nalgas: you ain’t exactly going to win the Latino vote when you suggest that a generation of them ought to be deported for the simple act of living in this country without papers.

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But the real offensive thing is how out-of-touch Rubio and Cruz are with non-Cuban Latinos. You know you’re bad when a gringo like Jeb is more attuned to Latino issues than the two of them combined – and Jeb is a pinche Bush, for Chrissakes! (He is not, however, actually Latino, all voter registration forms to the contrary.)

I’ll give the last word to Columbia University political scientist Rodolfo de la Garza, formerly of the University of Texas:

Rubio is Cuban and has a strong Latino following in Florida, an important state, in part because he is Floridian. But, among his advisors, there is an acknowledgement that Rubio will have a challenge winning support from non-Cuban Latinos.

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