ENTERTAINMENT

Meet The Mexican-Americans Who Are Backing Donald Trump In New Hampshire

It's become one of his loudest, most frequently repeated boasts. As polls have shown him surging to the top of the Republican pack, Donald Trump has made a point of asserting his particular strength among Hispanic voters.

"I have so many Hispanics, and they love me," Trump said during a speech in Laconia, New Hampshire, last week. "And interestingly, we just got from the state of Nevada a poll [that] just came out, and Trump won with a tremendous amount. And the second line was, 'Takes Hispanic vote in a landslide,' and I've been saying that. I'm going to win the Hispanic vote."

The assertion that a man who recently decried Mexican immigrants as "rapists" would win the Hispanic vote in 2016 may sound absurd to most ears, Hispanic and non-Hispanic alike, but it sounded perfectly reasonable to Delilah Rodriguez.

"Yes, you are," the 59-year-old Laconia resident said out loud, as she watched Trump make the claim that he'd win Latino vote at the New Hampshire rally.

Rodriguez, who is of Mexican heritage, stood out among the sea of hundreds of almost entirely white faces who came out to see Trump on a brilliant summer day in the bucolic Lakes Region, which cuts through the middle of the first-in-the-nation primary state.

But like just about everyone else who was there, she hung on Trump's every word.

"I like that he's not afraid to speak the truth," Rodriguez told The Huffington Post. "I came here today because I wanted to hear him speak unedited by the media."

Rodriguez said that she likes that Trump is "not a politician." And her hard-line position on immigration is generally attuned to his: she believes the U.S. government should entirely seal off the border with Mexico "for a while."

"With his stance on border issues, I'm in total agreement," she said. "I feel that if anyone has the right intentions in entering our country, they're not afraid to go through the right channels."

Standing beside his mother, Rodriguez's son -- 39-year-old Alex Chapa of Manchester, New Hampshire -- nodded his head in agreement. "American Hispanics don't want all the illegals taking our tax money for free rights," he said.

As if to add emphasis to his comments, Chapa added, "We're Mexican and we're saying this!"

Chapa said that his grandparents on his father's side were born in Mexico and immigrated to the United States legally in the 1940s.

An Iraq War veteran who signed up for the Army ten days after 9/11, Chapa now works in New Hampshire's largest city as a veterans' employment representative.

Though he thinks that the U.S. government should close the Mexican border "for, like, ten years," it's not just Trump's stance on immigration that attracts him to the bombastic candidate.

"One of the number one issues America has is money, and he knows how to make money," Chapa said of Trump. "I like him because he's a billionaire, and he's powerful, and he's international, yet when he talks, he says it straight up, like how real Americans talk in a bar or at home. I love it."

Both Rodriguez and Chapa said that they are registered Republicans who voted for Mitt Romney in the 2012 New Hampshire primary.

However, there is no doubt that their views on Trump represent a dramatic departure from those harbored by most American Hispanics.

A HuffPost/YouGov poll conducted last month found that 71 percent of American Hispanics do not consider Trump to be a serious candidate, while only 18 percent thought that he was serious. And in a Washington Post-ABC News poll released on Thursday, 84 percent of Hispanics said that they "definitely would not" vote for Trump.

But what about Hispanic Republicans? Is it really possible that they might back Trump, as the candidate himself claims they will?

Trump's pronouncements to this effect appear to be based on a Gravis Marketing poll conducted in Nevada earlier this month, which did show Trump with a commanding 31.4 percent lead among Republican Hispanics in the state. His closest competitor, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, had the support of 11.4 percent of Republican Hispanics in Nevada, according to the poll.

Gravis, an automated polling firm, has conducted polls that proved to be wildly inaccurate in the recent past, and its methodology was criticized heavily during the 2014 midterms.

Jon Ralston, Nevada's leading political analyst, said that he was "highly skeptical" of Gravis' Nevada survey showing Trump's supposed strength among Hispanics.

"Intuitively, it makes no sense," Ralston said in an email. "Trump doing better among Hispanics here than Rubio (who also grew up here, by the way)? And better than Jeb? If it's right, it's temporal because Trump is in the news. Period."

But even if the "Hispanics for Trump" movement is an illusion advanced by shoddy polling and the distorted visions running through the head of the country's most prominent narcissist, disdain for Trump in the Hispanic community is not universal.

"People are too sensitive," Chapa said. "They need to, like, listen to some comedy, have a beer and just relax. They want everyone to talk to them like a first grade teacher talking to a kid, and it's like, we're all grown-ups, man."

CONVERSATIONS