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What Is Trump Doing For Republican Outreach To Latinos?

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

We wanted to get one more take on this. We wanted to take a step back and think about what the Trump candidacy could mean for the Republican Party and their efforts to appeal to Latinos, now and in coming years.

Daniel Garza knows a bit about that. He's executive director of The Libre Initiative. That's a free-market advocacy group founded by the business and political titans Charles and David Koch specifically to strengthen GOP support among Latinos. But now the group is moving away from the presidential election to focus on Senate and congressional races. Daniel Garza joins us now from McCallen, Texas, his home office. Thanks so much for joining us.

DANIEL GARZA: Of course. It's a pleasure.

MARTIN: Do you find it difficult to advocate for the party right now given Donald Trump's prominence in it and given the rhetoric which so many people have found offensive? For example, a Washington Post-ABC News poll published in May found that 84 percent of Latinos they surveyed viewed Trump unfavorably, despite the fact that he has been saying that Latinos will support him eventually. Does that make your case more difficult?

DANIEL GARZA: Now, look, our case doesn't rest on charisma of one candidate - or the lack of a charisma. I know that his comments - in reference to Judge Curiel, for example - they divide. They are counterproductive, I think, to achieving a more cohesive society. But I - what worries me more is his policy positions lack definition and clarity. I - few conservatives, I think, have any certainty about where he truly stands on any one issue - whether that's trade or pro-life or taxes. What we care about is to reverse the centralization of power and money in Washington, D.C. And so people are tired of that. And, to a certain extent, I think that's why they're responding to Donald Trump - because he sort of speaks to that.

MARTIN: In terms of the centralization of power and ideas - or correcting that in your view - how does that specifically connect to the Latino experience in the United States today? Understanding that that's a very broad experience, OK? But tell me how that message specifically connects to Latinos because that is your mission.

DANIEL GARZA: Latinos are very entrepreneurial. We contribute over a trillion dollars a year to the economy. There are 2 million Hispanics, including I think 1.4 million immigrants, that have started their own business as of 2012. What we want to see is an agenda that lessens the burden on taxes, on regulations, on Latinos. We want to make sure that we defend their religious liberty issues, that there are free speech issues that are being defended, that there is government transparency and that these things matter, too - not the one issue of immigration only.

MARTIN: What will constitute success for your organization in this election cycle given everything that we've just talked about?

DANIEL GARZA: I think, you know, we know the challenges that we face. And they need to be addressed by a nation that is united. Unfortunately, we have some candidates that are actually dividing instead of coalescing Americans. Donald Trump, for example, needs to be connected and share a vision that is inclusive. Insulting and denigrating Americans of different backgrounds, I think, only makes it harder to achieve that goal.

MARTIN: Before we let you go Mr. Garza, I pushed the prior guests on this question so I feel that I can push you, too.

DANIEL GARZA: Sure.

MARTIN: Are you going to vote for Donald Trump or not?

DANIEL GARZA: I can tell you - because, you know, we're nonpartisan, non-profit - I don't want to violate that. But I want to see more definition from Donald Trump. I want to see more clarity on these issues. Until I see that, you know, then I can have a certainty of who I'm going to vote for.

MARTIN: That was Daniel Garza, executive director of The Libre Initiative. That's an initiative funded by the Koch brothers to advance a conservative libertarian agenda among Latinos. Thank you so much for speaking with us.

DANIEL GARZA: It was an absolute pleasure. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.