Ted Cruz's victory in the Iowa Republican caucus on Monday night was historic not just for the massive turnout of voters to caucus sites across the state, but also because the maverick senator became the first Latino in United States history to win a presidential primary or caucus contest.
Unlike third-place finisher Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, however, Cruz does not tout his Latino roots and has emphasized throughout his campaign hardline policies on issues important to Hispanic voters. The Texas lawmaker bills himself as the campaign's only true conservative – ostrich-skin cowboy boots and all – and a political outsider who is the only candidate up to the task of fighting the "Washington Cartel."
"People are looking at Ted Cruz not as a Hispanic, but as an American," Evelyn Perez-Verdia, a consultant with Political Pasión in Florida, told Fox News Latino. "That is how he portrays himself."
Cruz's outsider status may appeal to tea party conservatives across the country, but it doesn't have Latino voters celebrating his victory in Iowa. His tough stance on immigration and border security are at odds with the majority of the Latino community and could spell trouble for him in upcoming primary battles and beyond.
"There will be a very, very small percentage of Hispanics who will support him," Perez-Verdia said. "And if Ted Cruz gets the nomination, it is going to hurt the Republican Party."
The GOP is still stinging from the losing the 2012 presidential race, when Mitt Romney garnered only 27 percent of the Latino vote.
Following the election, Republican officials did a post-mortem that determined the GOP needed to do a better job of appealing to Hispanics, who were angered at both the anti-immigrant sentiment of some of its candidates but disillusioned with the administration of Pres. Barack Obama, which had failed to deliver on his promise of comprehensive immigration reform.
While so-called establishment candidates like Rubio and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush have taken more moderate approaches to immigration – calling for a path to legal status for undocumented migrants along with ramped-up border security – Cruz, along with Trump, has ridden a wave of discontent over illegal immigration to the top of the polls.
He has called for constructing a border wall, tripling the number of Border Patrol agents, ending birthright citizenship and halting legal immigration when unemployment gets "unacceptably high."
"When establishment Republicans teamed up with Democrats to reward millions of illegal immigrants with amnesty, I engaged millions of men and women across the country," Cruz wrote on his campaigns website. "Together we defeated President Obama's attempt to pass amnesty, and we continue to lead the fight against congressional leadership each time it seeks to undermine the will of the American people."
The Texas senator's strict immigration stance is leading some analysts to dismiss him as a serious contender when it comes to winning the Latino vote, but supporters say that Cruz speaks to the millions of legal immigrants living in the U.S.
"Ted Cruz offers a lot to Latino voters," Manny Roman, the chair of Cruz for President in Miami-Dade County, told FNL. "As the campaign rolls out, Hispanic Americans will embrace his message."
On the stump and debate stage, Rubio has touted his family's immigrant past and how his father worked as a bartender to make ends meet.
Cruz, whose preacher father was also a Cuban refugee, has not used this tactic so far on the campaign trail but instead has focused on his family values and his father's religious beliefs.
That message played well in Iowa among its strong evangelical base – as it could in New Hampshire – but it is yet to be seen if his other positions will hurt him when the primary race moves into states with larger Hispanic populations.
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