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In Arizona, Trump's Reelection Campaign Seeks To Woo Latino Voters


Last month, the Trump campaign launched Latinos for Trump. And on Thursday night, that effort came to Arizona. The president won Arizona by about four points in 2016, and some Latinos in this border state approve of his immigration policies. As KJZZ's Bret Jaspers reports, the Trump campaign is trying to energize volunteers to grow his Latino support.

BRET JASPERS, BYLINE: Pizza, soda, air conditioning, politics - that was the scene at a Latinos for Trump event in Phoenix Thursday night.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: Glad to be hear, absolutely. Go Trump, baby. Go Trump.

JASPERS: Dozens of volunteers, and not just Latinos, wanted to know how they could help reelect the president - people like Louisa Gomez.

LOUISA GOMEZ: So we can all pitch in there and help get President Trump reelected, I'll be glad for that.

JASPERS: On the Latinos for Trump advisory board is Monica Yelin. She thinks the key to getting Latinos to vote for Trump is to talk about conservative values.

MONICA YELIN: We grew up in conservative homes. And our values align perfectly with the president's values. So we're speaking about pro-life values. Most Latinos, we don't agree with abortion. We have religious values. We have family values. We believing hard work. We pay taxes.

JASPERS: And she believes Trump's border policies are ensuring people don't skirt immigration laws.

YELIN: I come from Colombia, and I know how difficult life could be somewhere else. But there are ways to do it the right way.

JASPERS: At the training, Trump campaign officials said they want people to know how to advocate for the president on social media, organize neighborhood canvasses, register voters and talk to neighbors, friends and family.

Talking to family isn't super easy for Adonis Griffith.

ADONIS GRIFFITH: Even in my own family, I'm a pariah because I come from my family that's Latino and black and several other mixtures. And they vote Democrat, and I don't. So that's been a - it's been a thing that kind of - a needle in the wrong spot for me.

JASPERS: Targeting Latino voters specifically can be pretty hard, says Ryan O’Daniel. He ran Arizona Senator John McCain's 2016 reelection campaign. He says that's because there's a lot of diversity inside that group by age, nationality, socioeconomic status and gender.

RYAN O’DANIEL: You could have somebody who is non-Hispanic marry a Latino, and all of a sudden, you've got somebody that you're considering as part of that population group that actually fundamentally isn't.

JASPERS: Exit polls from 2016 said Trump won 31% of Latinos in the state. But Steven Nuno at Northern Arizona University did his own analysis and thinks it was much lower. He wonders if Latinos for Trump is more of a marketing effort to make moderate whites feel better.

STEPHEN NUNO: I have questioned in the past and continue to question whether or not Latinos for Trump is really about Latinos for Trump, or it's really about moderate whites for Trump - right? - who want to see or be assuaged that this is not a racist campaign, this is not a racist administration.

JASPERS: Trump's recent tweets brought widespread charges of racism. But this group of Latino Republicans is hoping their organizing effort will ultimately strengthen Trump's presidential image. For NPR News, I'm Bret Jaspers in Phoenix. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Bret Jaspers is a reporter for KERA. His stories have aired nationally on the BBC, NPR’s newsmagazines, and APM’s Marketplace. He collaborated on the series Cash Flows, which won a 2020 Sigma Delta Chi award for Radio Investigative Reporting. He's a member of Actors' Equity, the professional stage actors union.
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