Jeb Bush to Keynote Hispanic Convention
Jeb Bush will deliver a keynote address at the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce’s annual convention later this year, the group said Monday.
The announcement came as Democratic candidates spoke at the annual gathering of the National Council of La Raza in Kansas City and as the GOP tries to find its footing with Latino voters after a 2012 election defeat and controversial comments by one of its most vocal 2016 hopefuls.
The convention, taking place in Houston in September, is the country’s largest assembly of Hispanic business and community leaders. Organizers expect more than 7,000 attendees.
“As an association that represents 3.2 million Hispanic business owners, the USHCC has an accountability to ensure their voices are heard by each candidate – not only as business leaders, but as taxpayers, campaign donors, and ultimately as voters,” said USHCC President and CEO Javier Palomarez.
Republicans and Democrats who have keynoted the group’s annual conventions in the past include Vice President Joe Biden, 2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), 2008 GOP nominee John McCain, and Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro.
In 2012, the Latino vote was vital for President Obama’s re-election. According to the Pew Research Center, just 27 percent of Hispanics voted for Romney, while 71 percent cast their ballots for Obama.
In its 2013 “autopsy” report prompted by the party’s electoral defeat in 2012, the GOP urged its elected officials and candidates to “embrace and champion comprehensive immigration reform” to increase the party’s appeal to Hispanic voters, among other recommendations.
The GOP has found itself in somewhat of a conundrum over its Latino outreach efforts in recent weeks after real estate mogul Donald Trump, in his presidential announcement speech, described Mexican immigrants who come into the country illegally as criminals and rapists. Trump has repeatedly stood by his comments, which have caused prominent organizations to cut business ties with the billionaire.
At the NCLR conference on Monday, former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley called Trump a “hate-spewing character,” arguing “it’s so hard to tell him apart from the other [Republican] candidates” in terms of their views on immigration reform.
Bush and many other GOP candidates have denounced Trump’s remarks, calling them inappropriate and not representative of the Republican Party at large.