Absent so far, Hispanic politicians take spotlight at GOP convention

So far there have been none. By night’s end there will be have been three.

Call it Hispanic Night at the Republican National Convention.

The RNC in Cleveland, which has come under fire for having a dearth of Latino speakers, is featuring three of them on primetime Wednesday night.

They include former GOP presidential contenders Sen. Ted Cruz – the main attraction – Sen. Marco Rubio, and Kentucky state Sen. Ralph Alvarado Jr.

Their addition to the speakers line-up apparently came together only recently.

Cruz, who won 10 states and who presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump said gave him the stiffest competition of all his competitors, ended his campaign on acrimonious terms with the real estate mogul.

The two men exchanged vicious attacks in the weeks leading to Cruz’s withdrawal from the race after losing the Indiana primary to Trump.

Earlier this month, Trump and Cruz met at the National Republican Senatorial Committee headquarters with with Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus to help keep the peace.

Shortly afterward, the RNC announced that Cruz would have a primetime speaking slot at the convention.

Much anticipation awaits Cruz’s speech. Will he finally endorse Trump? Will the speech be mainly a call for Republicans to more deeply commit to conservative principles, thus underscoring Cruz as a standard-bearer for the GOP’s tea party faction, or will he focus on the need to rally around the Republican nominee in order to defeat Democrat Hillary Clinton?

In an interview Tuesday night, Cruz’s close ally and national presidential campaign co-chairman, Rep. Steve King of Nebraska, said it could very likely be a speech that set out to do both.

But many see Cruz’s spot on the schedule as an opportunity to reposition himself as a future presidential candidate.

Rubio got added to the speakers list only recently, and he’s delivering his comments via satellite.

The Florida lawmaker, who like Cruz is 45 years old, also had prickly dealings with Trump during the campaign, with both exchanging nasty barbs.

But in recent months, Rubio has said he would support Trump because he was the likely GOP nominee and the party needed unity to defeat Clinton. It was support, if feint or reluctant support.

Rubio stressed the many objections he still harbored about Trump’s positions and rhetoric. Asked if he planned to speak at the convention, Rubio gave a lukewarm response, saying he would if asked to, but that Trump was better off having speakers whose views aligned more closely with his.

But this week, Rubio, who like Cruz is running for re-election to his Senate seat, came on board at last.

It is also expected to be a chance for Rubio to get back on the national radar for a potential presidential run in 2020.

For Alvarado, 46, his address to the delegates can be a break-out moment, introducing him to a national audience.

“I strongly believe that the Republican Party is the party of opportunity for voters of all backgrounds, especially Hispanics," Alvarado said in a statement released by the Republican Party of Kentucky. "I plan to talk about my story as a public servant striving to make my state and nation a land of opportunity for anyone willing to work hard and persevere.”