Florida is the largest swing state in America. Both Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican candidate Donald Trump are campaigning extensively in the southern peninsula. Though recent polls show Clinton leading slightly in Florida, the GOP can save itself by making amends with Latino voters.
After proposing to build a wall along the Mexican-American border, implying that undocumented Mexican immigrants coming into the United States are rapists, and making other culturally insensitive remarks about Mexicans and Hispanic populations in general, Trump does not seem like the likely candidate to appeal to the Latino population.
The Miami Herald reports, however, that a high percentage of Cuban Americans in Florida could help Trump salvage lost votes that he will need to defeat Clinton in November.
These voters tend to be small-business owners and care a great deal about the status of the economy.
In March, Former Hialeah Mayor Julio Martinez told reporters from the Miami Herald, "I don’t think Cuban; I think American." He went on to say that Trump is the best man for the presidency because he is fit to fix the American economy.
Martinez and other Cuban-American small business owners represent a critical group of people for Trump’s campaign to target in the coming months. Based on their significant common interests, the campaign has great potential to be successful.
The Herald also notes that many Hispanics in Florida, and the United States in general, are religious and have vested interests in education.
These concerns may be enough to garner Trump some votes from individuals who will vote on party alone. The GOP continues to support opportunities for school choice and education reform, points that may be of interest to anyone residing in districts with failing school systems.
For those who will vote based on candidate rather than party, Trump can appeal to this same demographic with the news of his likely running mate, Gov. Mike Pence.
As Governor of Indiana, Pence initiated programs for state-funded pre-kindergarten education, extended the availability of school choice in Indiana, and increased opportunities for career-starting and technical education schools, according to Indiana's government website. He can appeal to those in the Hispanic population that have concerns about the future of education in America.
Additionally, Pence is known for his strict stance against abortion, again appealing to conservative and religious voters.
Trump’s team has the pieces in place to earn the support of the Latino community, especially in Florida. Now he has to act in order to save the GOP.
On July 8, Trump was supposed to hold an exclusive meeting with influential Latino leaders in Miami before speaking to a larger audience of voters. Unfortunately, the meeting and address were canceled due to the tragic shootings that took place in the preceding days.
Though the event never happened, plans to hold such a meeting and closed conference represent steps in the right direction for Trump's campaign.
Trump can hope to add to his Latino following by taking advantage of the National Diversity Coalition. Helen Ferre, director of Hispanic communications for the Republican National Committee, described this group to The Wall Street Journal as “a diverse group of men and women, grassroots folks, who are coming to Washington on their own dime.”
These individuals support Trump and aim to make their support known, especially among minority groups.
In recent years, Democratic candidates have earned an overwhelming majority of Hispanic voters’ support. However, if Trump can sway them this year, the support of Latino voters could be just enough to clinch a GOP victory. By campaigning strategically, Trump could secure a win in Florida and, possibly, a spot in the Oval Office.