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A group of prominent Hispanic conservatives who once vowed never to support Donald Trump’s presidential campaign have had a sudden change of heart.
“Too much is at stake for America for us to remain neutral on the sidelines,” reads a letter co-signed by 13 Latino Republican leaders
who once campaigned to block Trump’s GOP nomination. Now, they say they will not only vote for him but encourage other members of the Hispanic community to do the same.
Despite antagonism over Trump’s immigration policies and his offensive remarks towards Americans of Hispanic descent, the group’s turnaround was inspired both by the recent increase in domestic terrorist threats, such as the Orlando shooting in June, and a strong aversion to the only likely political alternative to a Trump White House — Hillary Clinton.
“We felt that as offensive as Trump had been, Hillary would be much worse,” said Alfonso Aguilar, lead author of the letter and head of the Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles.
Research suggests that between 1975 and 2003, some 13,971 people
were killed by terrorism worldwide. The group’s letter continues: “We are not enamored with Donald Trump’s bombastic rhetoric and personality. But at least we know… that Trump can better address the terrorist threat we face because, contrary to Clinton, he is willing to acknowledge and address its root cause: radical Islamic fundamentalism.”
The authors also criticized Clinton for using Trump’s inflammatory ethnic remarks “to pander to our community” without having a concrete immigration policy of their own.
“We have to put this in perspective,” Aguilar told the Huffington Post
. “I understand the animosity against Trump, but I think we’re called this election [to make] a practical vote.”
The most recent polls place Aguilar and other conservatives in the minority, however. Trump currently claims only 14% of Latino voter support, while Clinton boasts 76%.
However, more minds could still be changed before the November election, especially given the particularly divisive nature of the two major party nominees. Said Ruth Guerra, former head of the Republican National Committee’s Hispanic media relations: “I’m not voting for Hillary, so…”