The Republican National Committee’s top Hispanic media spokeswoman declined to say Sunday whether she’s uncomfortable defending her party’s presumed presidential nominee, Donald Trump, despite previously critical comments about him.
Helen Aguirre Ferré became the RNC’s director of Hispanic communications this month amid a shakeup in which her successor quit amid discomfort with Trump’s candidacy and his controversial comments about Latinos and other minorities. Aguirre Ferré previously worked for the GOP presidential campaign of former Florida governor Jeb Bush and spent most of the past year on television and social media raising doubts about Trump’s viability and blasting him for sexist and racist remarks.
But Aguirre Ferré defended the party line in her first Sunday show interview since taking the job. She was asked about comments by House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.), who told NBC’s “Meet the Press” that Republican delegates to the party’s national convention can try to do whatever they want to change the party rules, even if that means finding a way to rob Trump of the party nomination.
Speaking on Telemundo’s “Enfoque with Jose Diaz-Balart,” Aguirre Ferré said in Spanish that “Everyone has to make their own decision in this campaign, and that isn’t different from any other year. The Republican Party, like I said, is united in defeating Hillary Clinton and that is what unites all of us.”
But Diaz-Balart noted that Republicans are united behind Trump, citing Aguirre Ferré’s previous comments about the candidate. He also reminded her that she had deleted several tweets critical of Trump just before taking the RNC job. He asked: Does she have difficulty representing the GOP when Trump is the party’s standard-bearer?
“Look, the Republican Party and the work of the Republican National Committee is to represent the Republican Party, and we support all of our candidates and I’m proud to be a member of the Republican Party,” Aguirre Ferré said in Spanish. “There is little doubt that we’re united in defeating Hillary Clinton. And if I could say something, Jose: I haven’t done anything to eliminate what you could see in a tweet or email that you would have to see with national security clearance or less. That’s what Hillary Clinton did in the past – she’s under criminal investigation by the FBI. So, I think that you have to speak clearly about what unites us and clearly we are united to support all of the Republican candidates.”
“Including Trump?” Diaz-Balart asked.
“Yes, Trump is the presumed nominee for the Republican Party,” Aguirre Ferré responded. “You’re going to see a strong force that gives him what he needs to defeat Hillary Clinton.”
Aguirre Ferré is a longtime Republican operative who has worked for several GOP campaigns, including Mitt Romney’s 2012 run. She previously hosted a Spanish-language radio show for the Univision radio network and serves as an analyst of the Univision television network.
Given her previous statements about Trump, her decision to join the RNC shocked many close associates and Hispanic political consultants in both parties who know her well.
Back home in Miami, Aguirre Ferré — whose father-in-law was the first Latino mayor of the city — is facing pressure to step down from her role as a member of the board of trustees of Miami Dade College, the region’s powerful university system. Several immigrant advocacy organizations have called on her to step down given her new RNC role, but university officials continue to support her.
“I will not cow to political pressure.”
Ed O’Keefe is covering the 2016 presidential campaign. He’s covered presidential and congressional politics, Congress and federal agencies and spent a brief time covering the Iraq war.