As U.S. Florida Senator Marco Rubio trails Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in white votes 43%-45% according to the most recent Quinnipiac poll, the Democrats say that Rubio still does not have a chance of winning due to his stance on rapprochement with Cuba and also his position on immigration reform. The Republicans seem to believe that if he continues targeting the middle class and poor through his personal stories, and focuses on the Latinos who think just like them, he has a chance of getting that 35% percent of the Hispanic vote that he needs. The strategy is that he does not need to convince all Hispanics, just the conservative ones that support his cause.
On Monday, April 13th, I had the opportunity to view the diversity of individuals from outside of the iconic Freedom Tower in Miami at Marco Rubio’s announcement for President of the United States.
Los Cubano-Americanos (The Cuban-Americans)
While only 5% of Latino populations in the U.S. are Cuban-American, the majority in favor of Rubio (if not faithful to Jeb Bush) are conservative Cuban-Americans. We had the Sugar King Jose Pepe Fanjul (Fan-Yul in English, Fan-hul in Spanish) present at Rubio’s announcement and who a couple weeks later will have a fundraiser for him in West Palm Beach. Like in many families, there is a brother that is a Democrat and one who is a Republican–Pepe Jr. is the Republican. At the event we also saw proud Cuban-American women holding the Cuban flag, and wearing not one, but two lapel pins with Rubio’s handsome (according to Latinas between the ages of 35-80) face on them. Four Cuban-Americans who were hyped after Rubio’s announcement, stood in front of freedom tower (one with pink pants, white shoes and without socks) screaming at the climate change protestors: “Comunistas!” while reporter Michael Putney from Channel 10 was interviewing a Jewish man who supported Rubio.
Los Latinos (Self explanatory)
There was a bilingual Hispanic man (not Cuban) holding Marco’ Rubio’s book while his baby son wore a shirt that said “Future President of The United States”. Venezuelan-American conservatives, who also carry a similar pain as many conservative Cuban-Americans, support Rubio. We saw people like Mayor of the City of Doral, Luigi Boria. Also present was the well known Colombian-American Fabio Andrade, who moves the Latin-American masses in South Florida and who strongly says: “Si, yo estoy con el” (yes, I am with him). Fabio has worked with Bush before. May we not forget that Marco’s wife, Jeannette Dousdebes is Colombian-American.
Los Jovenes (The Youth)
A young generation of white Anglo Saxon teenage kids were also in full support. One caught my eye as he was wearing a t-shirt with the American eagle on it as he screamed “Whoo!” for Rubio and watched the speech on the Jumbo Tron. Behind them were the DACA kids or who we also call the “DREAMers” protesting and asking Rubio “What about my dream?!” as the senator continued to say that his father stood behind a bar in the back of the room so that he could stand behind a podium, in front of the room he was in.
Los Espirituales (The Spiritual Ones)
As Senator Rubio’s guests left with smiles on their face, I saw a priest walk calmly out of the tower as he contently watched the different people who surrounded him. I asked him if I could interview him. He complied with a cool demeanor. According to the priest, a protestant pastor prayed for Senator Rubio, before his announcement, yet Father Dan Beeman lives in Virginia and was the priest who prayed for Rubio after he announced he would run for President of the United States. As you see in the video, he mentions how impressed he was by the diversity of the crowd. From his Twitter account, this priest seems to know how to bring back Catholicism in a cool light to Millenials as he drinks beer with the Marco Team and says on Twitter that the most difficult thing of Marco’s event was not screaming “Polo”. According to The Pew Research Center’s 2013 National Survey of Latinos and Religion, 55% of the nation’s 34.5 million Hispanics identify as Catholic.
Here is Father Beeman who you can find on Twitter:
En Español (You get this one too)
At his announcement for president, Rubio also targeted the Spanish-speaking abuela who usually goes unnoticed, living in the English-spoken home of her daughter or son, yet Marco spoke to her on TV as he mentioned the words his father said to him all “en español”.
Que Va A Importar? (What Will Matter?)
In the day and age where our youth are not in touch with the policies of the candidate, all they will see and be attracted to is the youth that Rubio brings to the table. However, the Clinton campaign believes that if they get the United States Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Julian Castro to be her Vice-President, they will cover this demographic also. Castro is Hispanic, yet he does not speak Spanish. However it seems that this is the conversation that they will have with the guy who produces the commercial: “It’s all good, man. He is a Latino. What we are going to do is have a guy 20 years older than him translate what he is saying in Spanish, and it will work out perfectly.” This is where Democrats need to seriously ask themselves if having a Hispanic on the ticket, even though he does not speak Spanish will be enough. Hillary may run against two potential candidates that have this gift (Bush or Rubio).
According to a quote Rice University political scientist Mark Jones gave to the Texas Tribune: “Any Hispanic politician that doesn’t have that skill set is disadvantaged, in part, because they don’t have the ability connect in the same way with a key segment of the voting public. Language helps demonstrate commitment and a level of connection that is important with many voters whose dominant language is Spanish.” It is definitely something that the other candidates might underestimate of Rubio and something to seriously think about for 2016.
The Power of Rubio’s Message
As I hear Democrats and Republicans talk about the fact that Marco Rubio does not have a chance. At his event he showed the power he has to bring people together from different communities—it is something no candidate should take for granted.
Marco reached out to Millennials with his Pitbull music playing (which he knows personally and on first name basis) and painting former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as someone from “yesterday” very similarly as the young Bill Clinton did in his campaign when he spoke about George H. Bush.
There are definitely some clear differences in policy between Bush, Clinton and Rubio that affects us as Latinos. Yet, in the day and age where most voters do not look at the policies of a candidate, but in how much they like him, Rubio has that in for him also. The big pocket Koch Brothers definitely understand this and that is why the plan to back him. Which means that Senator Rubio will have unimaginable amounts of money to give a bilingual message.
Truly, we all know that the physical attractiveness of the person should not be the basis of any campaign, but sadly that is what politics has come down to. How much can an ad convince you that he or she is the one? How much can they bring to life through words your vision for America? How much can you bear looking at them for the next four or eight years? If he only had the skills to play the saxophone on a late night show. The diversity that Rubio brings is definitely something not to underestimate.