Javier Palomarez, the president and CEO of the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, said Democrat Hillary Clinton lost the election to President-elect Donald Trump because she got bad advice from her campaign.
“She took the Latino vote for granted, because they told her to focus elsewhere,” said Palomarez, who squarely blamed campaign manager Robby Mook, chief of staff John Podesta and “all those inside-the-Beltway advisers” in her camp.
The USHCC issued its first-ever presidential race endorsements during the primaries this year, giving their seal of approval to both Clinton and Ohio Gov. John Kasich, and Palomarez was quick to defend the Democratic candidate.
“That’s not an indictment of Hillary Clinton,” he said. “She just surrounded herself with people who didn’t understand my community. And the results tell the tale.”
While Clinton won the Hispanic vote nationally by a wide margin – 65 percent to 29 percent for Trump, according to National Election Pool exit polls – it was less than the Latino support Obama received in 2008 and 2012.
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Palomarez said she could have won Florida had she put more effort into reaching out to Latino voters early on.
He pointed out a number of mistakes the Clinton camp made, including skimping on Spanish-language ads and focusing too much on immigration.
“It’s a unifying issue,” he said, “but not the only one – not even the most important one.”
In the meantime, he said, Trump was talking about a variety of issues.
“Not just immigration: Jobs, national security, trade,” he said.
But the easiest mistake to correct, he said, was naming Sen. Tim Kaine as her running mate.
“Had she listened to me and other Hispanics, she would have put [Housing and Urban Development Secretary] Julián Castro on the ticket,” he said. “Instead, Kaine didn’t play well with Latinos – or not well enough.”
He believes that Clinton’s advisers selected the Virginia lawmaker, in part, because he speaks Spanish fluently, and they hoped he would appeal to Hispanics as well as middle-aged white voters.
“They took Latinos for granted, thinking, ‘This one’s good enough,’” Palomarez said of the process of selecting Kaine. “Well, he’s a great man, but he’s not a Hispanic!”
A number of polls have shown that vice-presidential running mates rarely impact the popular vote, but Palomarez insists, “with Castro, every Latino in the country would have noticed and been energized. And, you know what? He’s darn near a millennial himself.”
For as well as Clinton did perform among Latinos, Palomarez believes she should have received a far higher share of their vote.
“Trump won a significant percentage of the Hispanic vote when everybody expected he would get less,” he said. “I didn’t think he would get into double digits. Think about what the election results would have looked like with Clinton getting another 15 percent of that vote.”
So does Palomarez regret the USHCC’s endorsing Clinton?
“No,” he said. “You hate it that the first time you choose to endorse presidential candidates, you don’t garner a win. But we believe that when you represent 4.2 million businesses who contribute $688 billion to the economy, you should have a voice in the process.”
He points out that the endorsement doesn’t seem to have damaged the group’s relations with the Trump camp.
“I’ve been talking to [Trump special counsel] Michael Cohen,” he told FNL. “Trump’s team has been very collaborative, wanting to know where can we work together. Small businesses, creating jobs. They’ve committed to us, true to their word.”
Bill Vourvoulias (@bvourvoulias) is an editor at Fox News Latino.
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