LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:
For conservative groups that are courting Latinos, Trump's remarks are likely to make their work more difficult. Let's turn now to Daniel Garza. He is the president of The LIBRE Initiative, a free market advocacy group founded by the business and political titans Charles and David Koch, specifically to strengthen Republican support among Latinos. Garza also worked in the George W. Bush administration. And he joins me now from Mission, Texas. Welcome to the program, sir.
DANIEL GARZA: Thank you, Lulu. It's a pleasure to be with you.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: So I'd like to get your reaction to the president's comments first.
GARZA: Well, I mean, I felt the president's remarks were counterproductive to trying to resolve, I think, the DACA negotiations. And, of course, I think it entirely inappropriate. Still, I suspect any political fallout will be mitigated by, I think, the booming economy that we're seeing, resulting in record low unemployment for U.S. Latinos, 3 percent-plus GDP growth and increases in wages because of the tax reform. So, you know, it's - they were not appropriate.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: So it seems like Latinos, at this point, might be a tough crowd, though, for Republicans. Immigration constantly polls as one of the main issues for them. And many view Republicans as being on the wrong side of this debate.
GARZA: Well, look. Latinos care about the economy. They care about education. They care about health care and national security. So when you weigh those things on a scale, you'd be surprised how much folks embrace the conservative message. In fact, more Latinos self-identify as conservatives than they do as liberals.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Right. Obviously, Latinos are not a monolithic group. Many Cubans, for example, vote Republican because of their particular history. But how do you sell the conservative view at this particular point in time? You may have a powerful economic message. But can that resonate if an entire demographic may feel demonized and under threat?
GARZA: Look. Latino citizens are smart, mature, educated voters who understand and can disassociate the comments of the president with what, you know, they need for solid policy that is going to make their lives better. I mean, that's what you have to ask yourself at the end of the day, you know, when you vote for some one person or the other, or one party or the other. Will that person make my life better? And that's the calculation that everybody makes. And Latinos do, too. So look. It's up to the candidate. And it's up to the party to sell their message, to market their message. We're a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization. And what we advance are principles. And that's what Latinos embrace.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: But it's not just the president. The Republican Party and its base has swung to the right on the issue of immigration and how to deal with it. There hasn't been a discussion, for example, of reform, looking at how people can work here legally but rather enforcement, deporting people, building walls.
GARZA: Well, look, you know, we have been very vocal in our support for DREAMers solution that is permanent. And - so we can get a - I think, an answer for the DREAMers. But at the same time, you know, the president, I think, is being politically shrewd in leveraging this important issue in a way that would allow him to deliver on his campaign promises. That's not really a misstep. That's standard operating procedure in Washington to leverage one issue for another.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Right, but that's - might sort of placate his base or support his base. But if you're trying to bring people into the tent, if you're trying to bring Latinos into the Republican Party - and it's had trouble doing that - isn't this problematic?
GARZA: Of course it is. Look. There's no question that the Republican Party, for the longest time, marginalized Latinos - actually, ignored them. I don't know why. Don't tell me why, or don't ask me why. But it was actually the left - the Democrat Party that did a lot of the engagement that invested in the communities. And I think just now, the conservative movement and those in the Republican Party are starting to understand that ignoring the Latino vote is to do so at your own peril. And so they are now being much more aggressive. Look. Somebody like Cory Gardner got 45 percent of the Latino vote in a state that Michael Bennet had received 90 percent of the Latino vote as a Democrat. So the Latino vote is not baked in. You just need to do the outreach and earn their vote like anybody else.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: What would you like to see from the president and the party on immigration? - just briefly. We have 30 seconds.
GARZA: Look. We feel that no society can flourish when a significant part of its members live under the threat of being deported, especially those that - where the decision was made for them. There is political will on both sides. So I think we can get to a real solution that is going to address this problem and bring certainty to these kids.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Daniel Garza is the president of The LIBRE Initiative. Thank you so much for joining us on a Sunday.
GARZA: A pleasure.
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