Days after a group of celebrities released a letter to Latinos urging them to push back against what they saw as “the anti-immigrant fear mongering” of GOP presidential candidates, Florida’s lieutenant governor is responding with his own appeal to the community.
Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, Florida’s highest-ranking Republican Latino elected official, said in an open letter to Hispanics that the celebrities’ “ideological and political views do not give them a license to denigrate the views and beliefs held by others.”
He charged that, “Liberal elites and Democratic Party elders want all Hispanics to fall into a monolithic liberal agenda.”
Lopez-Cantera, who supports fellow-Floridian and Cuban-American Sen. Marco Rubio in the presidential race, argues that the values and interests of Latinos are more in line with those of the Republican Party. Lopez-Cantera is running for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Rubio.
“Three things are very important to Hispanics,” Lopez-Cantera said in an interview with Fox News Latino. “Being able to have a job, making sure your child gets an education that prepares them to get a job and living in a safe community.”
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He said Florida’s Republican policies have paved the way for educational improvements and small-business growth.
“One example of the opportunities (in Florida) are the Puerto Ricans who are leaving Puerto Rico because of policies there that are lined up with the Democratic Party,” he said. “They’re coming to Florida because there are opportunities here.”
The celebrities’ letter stated that the GOP field of presidential candidates was “pandering to the anti-immigrant base of the Republican Party that idolizes Donald Trump.”
The letter said that even moderate GOP candidates have adopted more hard-line immigration positions to win over conservative voters.
“Our communities have the power to decide who wins in the 2016 election,” said the letter, which was signed by musician Carlos Santana, actress America Ferrera, Zoe Saldana and comedian George Lopez, among others. “We hope that power is used to vote for candidates who support our community, share our values and will fight for working families. Neither Trump nor any of his fellow Republican candidates meet that standard.”
During the campaign, Trump has angered many Latinos since his speech announcing that he was running for president in June 2015 – including some conservative leaders who warned that his statements about Mexicans and mass deportation would cause Latino voters to turn away from the GOP.
After Hispanics voted overwhelmingly for President Barack Obama in 2012 over his Republican rival, Mitt Romney, a number of conservative voices urged the GOP's political leaders to be more mindful of their rhetoric and work harder to reach out to minority groups.
Asked his opinion of the hard-line immigration rhetoric voiced by Trump and some other GOP candidates, Lopez-Cantera said it was not his place to respond to every candidate’s comments.
He did, nonetheless, acknowledge in his letter that, “I do not agree with, nor do I defend, every piece of rhetoric from every Republican candidate [who] runs for office ... However, as a Republican I know that myself and the overwhelming majority of the Republicans I have served or interacted with understand that Americans have different beliefs, and they have the right to voice those beliefs.”
Elizabeth Llorente is Senior Reporter for FoxNews.com, and can be reached at Elizabeth.Llorente@Foxnews.com. Follow her on https://twitter.com/Liz_Llorente