POLITICS

Latino business group chief meets privately with Trump: 'He listened more than he spoke'

Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump met with Javier Palomarez, the CEO of the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, at Trump's offices in New York.

 

Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump met with Javier Palomarez, the CEO of the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, at Trump’s offices in New York City Tuesday morning. 

During the private meeting, which lasted more than an hour, the two men discussed Latino voters, the economy and illegal immigration among other issues, according to sources at the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and in the Trump campaign.

"I found the private Donald to be quite different than the public Donald, " Palomarez told Fox News in an interview after the meeting. "This Donald Trump was very elegant, very gracious and very hospitable."

"He listened a lot more than he spoke," Palomarez added. "I am very happy with the way the conversation went."

Palomarez then paused for a moment.

"To be very clear, we are still in disagreement with Donald Trump. In no way is this an endorsement or support of Donald Trump," Palomarez said. "I did remind him that anybody,Republican or Democrat, male or female, looking to move into the White House will have to garner the support of the Hispanic vote."

Trump told the Hispanic leader that he and his position on the Latino community had been "mischaracterized by the media," according to Palomarez. "He assured me that he, in fact, feels very differently."

The real estate mogul and television personality also told Palomarez that he was impressed by Latino business leaders and had many friends in the Hispanic community. He reitereated a point he often makes on the campaign trail, that he employs tens of thousands of Hispanics.

The Chamber of Commerce said that Trump will be attending a Q & A presidential forum like those that previous presidential hopefuls Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT) have participated in.

Trump, who leads the crowded GOP field, has sparked controversy and drawn the ire of many Hispanic groups not only for his contentious statements about unauthorized immigrants but also for his hardline immigration proposals to build a wall on the southern border, to cut off remittances by undocumented immigrants and to conduct mass deportations.

A senior staffer at the USHCC said that Trump at one point during the meeting joked that he did not need the Latino vote because of his high poll numbers, but later backtracked, acknowledging that actually he did need Hispanic voters for his campaign to be ultimately successful.

The influential Latino organization, a non-partisan entity, announced earlier in the year that they were boycotting Trump's hotels after the billionaire’s controversial remarks during his presidential announcement in June, when he described many Mexican immigrants as "rapists" and "criminals."

Within the Hispanic community, Trump's comments set off a firestorm, eliciting condemnation from many and causing a number of prominent companies to sever business ties with the real estate and television mogul.

According to the USHCC website, the Chamber "actively promotes the economic growth, development and interests of more than 3.2 million Hispanic-owned businesses, that combined, contribute in excess of $486 billion to the American economy each year."

Fox News Producer Christopher Snyder contributed to this article.

Serafin Gomez is a White House Producer for FOX News Channel, who also covered the 2016 election as a Special Events & Politics producer and former special campaign correspondent for Fox News Latino. Fin formerly worked as the Miami Bureau Producer for Fox News Channel where he covered Florida Politics & Latin America. Follow him on Twitter: @Finnygo