In another sign that GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump is damaging his party’s standing with Latinos, the communications director of the Florida Republican Party announced Monday that he’s stepping down because he cannot defend Trump’s racism.
“I’m thankful for my almost two years with the Florida GOP, however, moving on gives me a great, new opportunity to continue promoting free market solutions while avoiding efforts that support Donald Trump,” Wadi Gaitan, a strategist for Latino voter outreach, said in a statement.
As a former House Republican staffer and press assistant to 2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, Gaitan, the son of Honduran immigrants, spearheaded efforts to help Republicans reach more Latino voters through Spanish-language media.
A friend told BuzzFeed News that Gaitan was no longer comfortable with “the indefensible things being said about immigrants.”
Trump’s offensive comments about the Hispanic community, which began on day one of his presidential campaign, have put Latino Republicans in a bind. For years, the GOP has tried to bring more Hispanic voters into the party. The party’s post-2012 “autopsy report” recommended strategies to help the GOP become more inclusive of people of color.
But Trump’s regular attacks on Latinos, immigrants, Muslims and other groups have jeopardized those efforts, with his approval rating among Hispanic voters hovering at an abysmal 13 percent, according to a recent survey from the Latino Victory Fund, a group that mobilizes Hispanic voters and political candidates. That same survey found that 85 percent of respondents believe that Trump’s candidacy has worsened Latino voters’ perception of the GOP.
Because of this, many top Latinos within the Republican Party have been reluctant to support Trump. Some, like Gaitan, have left their leadership positions because they can’t tolerate Trump as the party’s standard bearer and refuse to defend him in an official capacity.
Earlier this year, Ruth Guerra resigned as the Republican National Committee’s director for Hispanic media relations because she became increasingly frustrated with Trump’s remarks. Her replacement, Helen Aguirre Ferré, had also denounced Trump, but still took the job.
Gaitan’s new role will be at the LIBRE Initiative, an organization funded by the billionaire Koch brothers that woos conservative Latinos through its focus on free markets. The organization has also been critical of Trump’s rhetoric and tone. Director Daniel Garza told NPR that he worries the GOP presidential nominee has made his group’s efforts more difficult.
Editor’s note: Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims — 1.6 billion members of an entire religion — from entering the U.S.