Republican Convention Preview

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Tune in for a discussion of what to expect at next week’s Republican National Convention and election topics including the Latino vote, immigration issues and the Republican vote here in Arizona. Join our guests Bettina Nava, former State Director for Senator John McCain and Jose Esparza, Chairman of the Arizona Latino Republican Association who will talk about the relationship between Latino culture and the Republican Party.

>> José Cárdenas:
Good evening. I'm José Cárdenas. Welcome to "Horizonte." The 2004 Republican National Convention is less than one week away. What can Latino Republicans expect to hear from President Bush and the Republican Party?

>>> José Cárdenas:
The goal was to register Latino voters and call attention to immigration proposals. Just how did the New American Freedom Summer campaign spread that message? What is the Bush-Cheney campaign doing to reach out to Latino voters? With us tongiht is Bettina Nava. Bettina was the former State Director for Senator McCain and also a former Arizona delegate to the Republican National Convention. Also here is Jose Esparza, chairman and co-founder of the Arizona Latino Republican Association. Currently Jose is an Arizona delegate to the convention. Bettina, Jose, welcome to "Horizonte."

>> Jose Esparza:
Thank you.

>> José Cárdenas:
Jose, tell us a little bit about the Arizona Latino Republican Association.

>> Jose Esparza:
I co-founded the Arizona Latino Republican Association, ALRA, about three years ago to give voice to Arizona's conservative Republican Latinos, and what we've done in the last three years is we go into the Latino community and foster the principles of the Republican party, and through that we hope to grow a network of grass roots activists.

>> José Cárdenas:
You said to give voice to Arizona's conservative Republican Latinos. Is there a division within the group of Republican Latinos, some conservative, some more moderate?

>> Jose Esparza:
I think there are several conservative Latinos. Conservative, when I say too conservative for the Democratic Party. For years -- I come from rural Arizona.

>> José Cárdenas:
You mean the Republican party as an alternative --

>> Jose Esparza:
Globe-Miami, several Democrat voters time and time again they vote for the Republican candidate. My father was born and raised, was a Democrat when he first registered, with Reagan he turned to be a Republican, along with several others.

>> José Cárdenas:
He registered Republican?

>> Jose Esparza:
He registered Republican, yes. I have several of my family members, although they're registered Democrat or independent, several are more conservative than I am.

>> José Cárdenas:
Bettina, when we were talking off camera, You pointed out that your father, who is who is a registered Democrat, has probably voted Republican more times than you have. Is it the same thing, a generational gap?

>> Bettina Nava:
Sure, I think there is some of what a generational gap in the sense that on social issues they tend to be more conservative. So if he hasn't voted 50-50, as far as how often he's voted Republican or Democrat, he tends to stick to those more religious -- he's a conservative Catholic and those are important values to him, so he tends to -- a lot of times that is the litmus test on which he bases his vote.

>> José Cárdenas:
Did you start out as a registered Democrat --

>> Bettina Nava:
No, I was originally -- actually, I'm sorry, I was a Democrat in college and I received my first paycheck and realized all my taxes were being taken out and became a Republican at some point. I think John McCain had a lot to do with that. That was one of the first jobs that I ever had in college. So...

>> José Cárdenas:
I want to talk about your experience with Senator McCain, but before we get there, a few years ago Grant Woods made the paper because he talked about the two Arizona Hispanic Republicans in the State of Arizona. Obviously there are a lot more. How many would you say?

>> Bettina Nava:
Very rough, because it's hard to tell, there's not any official way of gauging it, but numbers I've seen very unofficial, out of the 1.2 million that are registered to vote, 300,000 are Republican. Of that 300,000, approximately, again very rough guesses here, 50,000 are Republican and 160,000 Democrat. What we have to remember, however, is the unpredictability of how those individuals vote.

>> José Cárdenas:
You have 300,000 registered Latino voters in Arizona roughly and of that about 50 to 60,000 are --

>> Bettina Nava:
Republican. But then you have the conservative Democrats that are unpredictable in how they vote.

>> José Cárdenas:
How did Arizona's Latino voters do in terms of their presidential preference in the last campaign?

>> Bettina Nava:
I'm not sure. I mean with John McCain's race that we had upwards of 65% of the vote, and that was in a general. So we were able to really have a huge crossover. In fact, I think as many Democrats voted as Republicans.

>> José Cárdenas:
Any sense of the demographics of the Hispanic registered Republicans, is it a young --

>> Bettina Nava:
I don't know for certain. I think it's pretty much as any Republican they tend to be older, upwards of 50.

>> José Cárdenas:
Jose, how many members in your organization?

>> Jose Esparza:
We're up to about 200 members. Every time we go into the Latino community or the community in general and speak about President Bush's record over the last four years on the economy, on education, on the war on terrorism, on healthcare, what we do is we hold up a mirror and we give the facts out to Latinos and for most of the time I think they feel that their cultural values mirror that of the Republican party platform. The problem is the party, I'll admit it, never reached out to the Latino community, and that time has changed with the Arizona Latino Republican association, along with President Bush's campaign here in Arizona, we're reaching out into a community that we didn't do so before.

>> José Cárdenas:
How closely affiliated to the Republican party, the official Republican apparatus here in Arizona, is your group?

>> Jose Esparza:
We're an autonomous organization.

>> José Cárdenas:
And -- but is there some kind of coordination to increase outreach to the Hispanic community?

>> Jose Esparza:
Sure, we work hand in hand, although we are autonomous, we work hand in hand with the state party in help with voter outreach and targeted media hits to bring Latinos into the party.

>> José Cárdenas:
Are you doing any education of mainstream Republicans -- what are the differences if any? Beside Hispanic and non-Hispanic.

>> Jose Esparsa:
I don't think there's really any difference. A Latino issue is no different from an American issue. It's the war on terrorism is important. The economy is important. I think President Bush came into office with a recession. He dedicated himself to improving the economy and he's done so. Education, which is important to Latinos and every other American. Spending has increased under President Bush. Primary and secondary education has gone up 48% since fiscal year '01. Title I spending which affects Latinos has gone up 52% under President Bush.

>> José Cárdenas:
While I think people would be surprised at the fairly large number of Hispanic Republicans registered voters here, the reality is, though, that the Democratic Party has continued to be the party of choice, at least in terms of registration. Why do you think that is for Hispanics?

>> Bettina Nava:
I think a lot of it stems from JFK, "is ask what you can do for your country," I think that was in operational. It's a generational type issue. But I think over time again the social issues of the Republican party have tended to be more attractive to those conservative Democrats.

>> José Cárdenas:
Issues such as what?

>> Bettina Nava:
Abortion I think would be key. Family values. Whatever constitutes family value. I think even the phrase family values tend to attract --

>> José Cárdenas:
Resonates strongly?

>> Bettina Nova:
It does.

>> José Cárdenas:
With respect to the convention, I want to talk about that, because you've had your experience, and I want to talk to you Jose, but first, tell bus your experiences with Senator McCain.

>> Bettina Nava:
First job out of college, lived in D.C. hand a job that didn't pay much and was the best learning experience of my life. Ended up back in Arizona and helped with immigration issue and border policy. Then prior to my current job, which I started in January, I was his state director for two-and-a-half years.

>> José Cárdenas:
He will be prominently featured at the convention next week. There are allegations or charges made by various groups and observers that the Republicans are really not showing their true face because they're going to have a whole series of moderates who will be in the spotlight as opposed to representatives of their more conservative base. Do you agree with that?

>> Bettina Nava:
I definitely think -- at least I'm hoping that part of what's going to happen at the convention is we start talking about being big tent, that litmus test for being a Republican is not just abortion or family values or same sex marriages, we have room for a lot of different thoughts and proposals. So I hope that's key.

>> José Cárdenas:
The concern that's expressed is there's only one face to the Republican party that's going to be shown.

>> Bettina Nava:
I don't think that's the case. I mean, I think obviously it will run the gamut. It's yet to be seen. But that's my hope, that it will be more centrist, show that there is room for different areas of thought, that again the litmus test is not abortion, same sex marriage, et cetera. Did I answer your questions? I don't know.

>> José Cárdenas:
I think you did a great job. Jose, what are you expecting to see at the convention?

>> Jose Esparza:
I am expecting to see the diversity of the speakers I see every day when I'm out in the community. Not every Republican ideal with is on the far right of every issue or is a moderate. There are several different phases of being a Republican. Although you may not agree with everything in the party or platform, I think it's the best vehicle to move your political ideology forward.

>> José Cárdenas:
And yet there currently seems to be a battle for the soul of the Republican party between the extreme right and the moderates. What role do you see Hispanic Republicans playing in the struggle.

>> Jose Esparza:
I see our role as -- I'll use protect Arizona now as an example. I think that can be coined as than extremist issue and what we've done is we just give out the facts on the issue and say protect Arizona now, that's not a Republican issue, that's just a few people running that, and it shouldn't be defined as a Republican issue.

>> José Cárdenas:
In fact the entire congressional delegation and Democrats have come out --

>> Jose Esparza:
Has come out against it. I'm a Republican, I'm against it, our organization has been against it since its inception.

>> José Cárdenas:
Is your organization taking any affirmative steps to defeat the proposal?

>> Jose Esparza:
Yes, I have spoke out at several district Republican meetings against protect Arizona and district chairmen call me on a daily base basis asking me to do so.

>> José Cárdenas:
question about this battle for the Republican party or what role -- where Hispanic Republicans might find themselves in that struggle.

>> Bettina Nova:
I think in that struggle we have to become a more predictable voting block and showing what issues are we concerned about. Yes, we care about immigration and bilingual education, but we need to start changing the perception that what we care about are, as Jose said, the economy. I'm a new small business owner. I care about payroll tax, education, do we have measurable outcomes. So the role we can play is to be a predictable voting block and then in that to be part of the discussion, get off the sidelines about what we care about.

>> José Cárdenas:
Now, prop 187 in California, which had similar overtones as prop 200 here really cost the Republican party there in term of Latino voters. Do you see the same thing happening here if the prop 200 battle gets pretty intense?

>> Bettina Nova :
I really do. I don't see either party winning in this. The Democrat party does not win on this issue. The Republican party does not win on this issue. It is divisive, and it leads to an atmosphere where we can't get any work done. We're essentially turning state employees or local city employees into federal agents. It's an unfunded mandate that's bad for our economy and that would be very difficult to recover from.

>> Jose Esparza:
What I would like to see is P.A.N. is not a Republican issue. Federal immigration reform is a Republican issue. President Bush in '04 came without his immigration plan. We have Senator McCain, Congressman Kolbe and Congressman flake running bills right now in the house -- U.S. House of Reps and the U.S. Senate on immigration reform.

>> José Cárdenas:
As well as Congressman Pastor?

>> Jose Esparza:
Yes, Congressman Pastoris also. And as you said again, I would like to restate, the entire Arizona delegation is against Protect Arizona Now.

>> José Cárdenas:
Let's talk a little about the local political battles. At the County Attorney level we have Andrew Pacheco running on the Republican side. The presumed favorite is Andrew Thomas, who seems to represent the extreme right wing of the Republican party. Your thoughts on that race?

>> Jose Esparza:
My thoughts on that race is I'm an Andrew Pacheco supporter. I think he is he is the most qualified for the job and he can win the general election. Andrew Thomas, if I'm not mistaken, lost the general election to Terry Goddard in the Attorney General race. He is too far to the right to win in the general election. Andrew Pacheco is the true conservative in this race and will win. And he's not the only Latino Republican candidate running. We have Jesse Hernandez running in District 17, Alberto Gutierre in District 11. We have Tony Martinez who is running for the County Assessor in Yavapai County. We have some qualified Latino Republicans running for office.

>> José Cárdenas:
What are their chances of winning?

>> Jose Esparza:
I think Alberto has a really good chance of winning.

>> José Cárdenas:
And Alberto was in Governor Hull's administration?

>> Jose Esparza:
Yes, he was. Tony Martinez is currently county assessor. He has a tough battle on his hands but I think he's going to pull it out. And I'm a firm believer that Andrew Pacheco will pull it out.

>> Bettina Nava:
I'll speak to the Pacheco race because I have predominantly involved in that race. Contrary to popular belief, he is actually the front-runner, although individual have espoused different --

>> José Cárdenas:
Senator McCain came out --

>> Bettina Nava:
Senator McCain, Senator Kyl, his list of endorsements are incredible, individuals who supported Andrew Thomas in his last race because he went so negative and they realize he was bad for the party have all gone behind Andrew Pacheco are supporting him.

>> José Cárdenas:
when you say he is leading, you mean in polls --

>> Bettina Nava:
Tracking, internal tracking, shows even the other campaigns have admitted that there is internal tracking that shows that Pacheco is actually --

>> José Cárdenas:
Is this a most likely voters in the pry mayor -- the problem I think for both parties is in the primaries it's the extremists who turn out --

>> Bettina Nava:
Right, it's not only likely voters but it's those individuals voting early which as we've seen, there's, I think, about 60% voting early. It's astronomical.

>> José Cárdenas:
If Andrew Thomas comes out of that primary race and becomes County Attorney, does the Republican party lose --

>> Bettina Nava:
Yes.

>> José Cárdenas:
Well, does it lose in terms of number of Hispanic Republicans.

>> Jose Esparza:
I think you'll have some Latino Republicans that are disappointed that Andrew didn't make it out of the primary, and it shows that we have a lot more work to do.

>> José Cárdenas:
You mentioned issues such as immigration and bilingual education. Is there a Hispanic Republican position on, let's say, bilingual education that's different perhaps than the rest of the party?

>> Bettina Nava:
I don't know. I mean, I think it's individual. I think it's according to candidates. That's a good sign because it shows that we are trying to move a little more towards being big tent.

>> Jose Esparza:
I was just going to say that, not to interrupt, but I think that she put that great. You know, my opinion on bilingual education is going to be different from Bettina's and my wife's and my father's. That's what is so good the Latino culture, that we're not just monolithic. We have different views on many different subjects. That's why we started the Arizona Latino Republican Association.

>> José Cárdenas:
We're going to end it on that note. Thank you both for joining us on "Horizonte." We're really pleased to have you here.

>>> José Cárdenas:
It's a campaign that targeted Latino voters. As Mike Sauceda tells us, volunteers were here to tell them that their vote counts.

>> Mike Sauceda:
This summer in Arizona and Florida volunteers went door to door looking for Latino voters. The New American Freedom Summer Campaign specifically targeted the two states, organizers say are on front lines of America's immigration reform debate. The campaign strategy is the same one carried out in Mississippi in 1964 when civil rights activists moved to the state to boost voting rights of African-Americans. Volunteers worked with several organizations in Arizona. They attended training sessions and then were armed with lists of newly registered voters with Hispanic surnames. They also went to places where they knew they can specifically talk to Latino voters. In hopes of getting more Latinos to the polls, they offered to fill in mail-in ballot forms for registered Latinos and offered to register those who are not, in addition to talking about immigration issues. When they weren't going door to door, volunteers also went to Southern Arizona to view firsthand conditions in which undocumented immigrants travel through once they cross the border.

>> José Cárdenas:
Joining us from one of the organizations that was involved with the campaign is Petra Falcon, lead organizer of the Pima County Interfaith Council. Also here is Gabriel Cruz, who was a volunteer with the campaign. Thank you both for joining us on "Horizonte." Petra, the campaign was called the New American Freedom Summer. Let's talk about the old American Freedom Summer that it was based upon.

>> Petra Falcon:
Well, 40 years ago African-Americans were in the middle of a enormous struggle, the struggle to obtain the right to vote, the struggle to obtain decent jobs with good wages. So there was a call to volunteers across the country to arrive in Mississippi and over a thousand volunteers in 1964 were actually part of the freedom summer at that time, and so this summer's freedom summer was a model of inviting again people to come to Arizona to be a part of six weeks project that would engage enfranchised voters to learned about the voters but also to be more involved and learn about what was happening in the border and our organization, Arizona interfaith hosted over 20 volunteers both in Maricopa County and in Southern Arizona.

>> José Cárdenas:
What led you to answer the call for volunteers for this new campaign?

>> Gabriel Cruz:
Well, this is a follow-up to last year's immigrant freedom rides that educated many people about the issues of immigration, but aside from educating, telling people what they can do in order to get involved.

>> José Cárdenas:
Why did you get involved?

>> Gabriel Cruz:
I got involved basically because the protect Arizona now initiative. We're dead heat in Arizona and it's going to affect the immigrant community. I felt I had to play a role, being from here, I had to play my part.

>> José Cárdenas:
As I understand it there were two states that were the focus, Florida and Arizona. Why those two states?

>> Petra Falcon:
Well, I think it's no secret that they're considered battleground states and in Florida --

> José Cárdenas:
Battleground for which election?

>> Petra Falcon:
In this election cycle.

>> José Cárdenas:
But this is a nonpartisan effort.

>> Petra Falcon:
Yes, it's a nonpartisan effort, but I think there was an opportunity to really involve many more people and in Florida -- I think the question in the last election was were people left out of the process, and so freedom summer was about getting many more people educated about the issue and in Arizona immigration, and immigration is a national issue, and so how -- one of the purposes of freedom summer from our standpoint is people can come into the communities of Nogales and Douglas and Guadalupe and Phoenix and Gilbert and Chandler. But then, we had volunteers coming from New York and New Jersey and Wisconsin and Los Angeles --

>> José Cárdenas:
In fact, Arizona had the bulk of the volunteers?

>> Petra Falcon:
Arizona had over 60 volunteers statewide. So how do these 60 young people go back into their communities and tell the story of Arizona in this instance?

>> José Cárdenas:
Has Gabriel indicated, at least part of the genesis for this campaign was last year's immigrant bus ride campaign, which generated some resentment among some members of the African-American community. Did you run into that here?

>> Petra Falcon:
No, absolutely not. Our organization is a broad based organization and we have member institutions that come from all walks of life, Baptist, Lutheran, Methodist and Roman Catholic, and our neighborhoods are just as diverse. So opportunity was for kids to really come in and experience different communities and we did not run into any --

>> José Cárdenas:
Tell us about that experience, your five weeks, six weeks.

>> Gabriel Cruz:
Basically I've always read in the paper here about what's going on at the border, the situations, but it wasn't a reality until I actually went out into the desert and I encountered what they were telling us in the paper. It wasn't glorifying it. I'm not glorifying it in any way whatsoever but really struck me is when I was doing voter registration, it wasn't just voter registration, it was letting different communities know about different issues and how it can affect them, the pros and cons basically.

>> José Cárdenas:
What kind of issues were you talking to people about?

>> Gabriel Cruz:
All sorts. Whatever -- protect Arizona now, any state propositions or initiatives that locals want to do or how other people that wanted information on like healthcare, education, various subjects.

>> José Cárdenas:
You mentioned that, when we were offstage, you're from Maricopa County?

>> Gabriel Cruz:
Yes, I'm from Glendale.

>> José Cárdenas:
Was this an entirely new experience for you?

>> Gabriel Cruz:
In a way, yes, I'm never going to forget this experience, because I got a lot of training from different groups, Arizona interfaith, from the unions, just different groups were really helpful in teaching me tools that I didn't have, and it's something I'm going to carry on for the rest of my life. But -- yeah.

>> José Cárdenas:
I understand that unions that Gabriel referred were to actively involved in promoting the campaign. Who else was involved?

>> Petra Falcon:
At the national level it was organization like the national immigration forum but also some of the original freedom summer participants like Bob Moses and here locally you had organization working on the border, you had organizations here in Phoenix that are also working to get people registered to vote. I think one of the experiences that -- of Southern Arizona as Gabriel was saying was to have people experience what was -- what's happening on the desert. There is a campaign called no more deaths and part of their time was spent going out to the camps and viewing firsthand what happens when people are coming across the border looking for a different kind of a life.

>> José Cárdenas:
Would you say that the campaign was successful?

>> Petra Falcon:
Yes, initially when we were approached -- I think one of the reasons Arizona interfaith -- many reasons, but one of the reasons we've been organizing in Arizona for 15 years, but I also think we folcus -- focus on nonpartisan issues, we don't endorse candidates, I think that was very important, but secondly was how do we work inside churches, neighborhoods, how do people connect. One of the things volunteers told us at the end they really felt welcomed into these communities and I think that's very, very important, is what we're attempting to do, with -- usually the critique is people don't vote because they don't care. But I think it's because people aren't asked what's important to them. I think one of the processes with these young people is how do they engage and really develop trust in a very short amount of time. So there was a lot of investment in the development of these young people because our organization focuses on leadership development, and so one of my first questions, what am I going to do with 20 young college kids?

>> José Cárdenas:
And how did you answer that?

>> Petra Falcon:
Well, it was -- an experiment, and I think what I learned was that people my age have a lot to offer young people. I mean, what is it that -- how do we continue to be useful to young people and teach them what we've learned. And I think that's what -- what the six weeks was about, how do really engage young people so they can become involved in public life.

>> José Cárdenas:
She talked about volunteers being welcomed in the communities they went into. I take it, it was true in your experience.

>> Gabriel Cruz:
Oh yeah, a little experience of mine is I walk up to a house, and I knock on the guy's door, and this guy is full of tattoos, he says, "What do you want?!" "Well, I'm here to register you to vote." And he says, "I don't do any of that." I said, "Well, let me tell you about some of the issues here in your community that are going to affect you." I started going into different little things that might affect him. And he goes, "Well, here, I'm going to register to vote," and he calls up some friends and he got them to register to vote. That was really surprising.

>> José Cárdenas:
A success story. Any negative experiences that really stood out?

>> Gabriel Cruz:
No, not -- I'm sure some of the volunteers might have had them but not myself.

>> José Cárdenas:
We're just about out of time. Some concluding thoughts on the campaign.

>> Petra Falcon:
Two things. I had met Gabriel prior to the campaign, but in that conversation what I found out about Gabriel was that he is the son of a former classmate of mine in my community in Glendale. So I guess for me it's about what we're passing onto our young people.

>> José Cárdenas:
Passing the torch.

>> Petra Falcon:
And the legacy that we leave behind and I think what these young volunteers that came to Arizona for six weeks, they're taking a piece of Arizona with them.

>> José Cárdenas:
Thank you both for joining us here and sharing those experiences. If you would like to see transcripts of what's coming up on "Horizonte," go to our website at www.kaet.asu.edu, click on "Horizonte" at the left of your screen and follow the links. That's our show for tonight. Thank you for joining us. I'm Jose Cardenas.

Bettina Nava: Former State Director for Senator McCain and former Arizona delegate to the Republican National Convention;

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