In an unprecedented move, the non-partisan U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce endorsed Hillary Clinton for president on Wednesday, in an announcement made at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.
It is the first time ever that America’s largest Hispanic business organization endorses a presidential candidate in its 38-year history.
USHCC President and CEO Javier Palomarez told Fox News Latino that all 150 chamber board members - made up of Latino corporate executives - are behind the decision, given the divisive tone of Trump’s campaign particularly towards the Latino community and immigrants.
“He is a clown. He’s a bigoted clown. This man is a dangerous buffoon,” Palomarez said.
“What he has done is that he has alienated people within the country, never mind what’s happening on an international basis. We need somebody who has the temperament to lead the most complex nation in the world. And the rhetoric that he has spewed for months now is simply unacceptable.”
When pushed on why the USHCC would get involved in the campaign at the risk of alienating some Hispanic business owners, Palomarez insisted it was a business decision. Trump’s rhetoric has not only marginalized Hispanic Americans, he explained, but he has insulted Mexico, America’s second largest trading partner and a key ally for millions of Hispanic-owned businesses nationwide.
“Over 6 million American jobs depend on that bilateral trade,” Palomarez explained. “We represent businesses both large and small that have interests in continuing to do business in Mexico – that have investments in Mexico,” he said.
“It is important that the leader of this economy understands the economic relationship that has to exist between Mexico and the United States,” added Palomarez. “Donald Trump has illustrated he clearly doesn’t understand that.”
Chamber officials announced the endorsement making rounds with the media throughout the convention site.
Part of the reasoning for supporting Clinton, Palomarez said, is that chamber members believe they have not received the proper attention and respect from Trump’s campaign.
“[Clinton] wants to hear from us. She wants to engage us. She wants to be a collaborator; this is what we need in Washington D.C.,” said Palomarez
Earlier this year, Palomarez received strong backlash for endorsing rising star and Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro to be Clinton’s vice presidential pick.
Critics argued the decision to endorse candidates is not the role of the USHCC.
“You’re saying you’re an organization that represents Hispanic businesses across the country, many owned by Republicans, and independents and people without any political agenda,” said Alfonso Aguilar, president of the Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles in January. “It’s putting at risk the reputation of the organization.”
But Palomarez insists his organization is non-partisan – pointing out that the USHCC has endorsed the Republican Senator John McCain and recently held a fundraiser for Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan.
“This is not a political organization nor is it partisan organization,” he said. “We are going to select the people that we think are listening to us and we are going to back them. Unabashedly we are going to back them.”