GOP Out Of Sync with Cuban Americans

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“I probably have six Cuban grandmothers, and ten Cuban mothers,” joked then-Florida governor Jeb Bush at the Cuban Liberty Council’s annual dinner 10 years ago, where he was the guest of honor. “You can always count on me to do what I can to make sure that the cause of a free Cuba is front and center in Washington.”

This was in 2004, not long after the first millennials became eligible to vote. Back then, the “cause of a free Cuba,” as Bush described it, was clear to the Cuban American community: No lifting of the embargo. No normalizing of relations. No reconciliation.

Perhaps it shouldn’t be surprising, then, that after stepping back onto the political stage so many years later, Bush’s position on Cuba has changed not at all. “We’re not a step closer to freedom in Cuba because of the steps the president is taking,” he said last week. Nor should it be of note that Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), a Cuban American who grew up in the Florida Republican establishment during the 2000s, would declare soon after announcing his own campaign that he planned to “reverse every single one of the decisions [the president] has made” with regard to Cuba.

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Nothing has changed, except for one thing: the Cuban American community itself. The political ground has shifted radically in the past decade, something neither Bush nor Rubio seem to have noticed.

As The Post recently reported, “Twenty years ago, 70 percent of Cuban Americans called themselves Republicans. In the latest Florida International University Cuba Poll, that number was down to 53 percent.” In fact, Florida exit polls in 2012 showed that Obama won the Cuban American vote, thanks largely to a 26-point landslide among voters under 45 — an incredible feat considering that nearly 80 percent of Cuban Americans in Florida voted for George W. Bush eight years earlier. Like the rest of American voters, it turns out that younger Cuban Americans are more liberal and Democratic than their elders, and their views on relations with Cuba are no exception.

Last June, months before Obama announced his plans, FIU’s poll showed that 52 percent of Cuban Americans living in Miami-Dade County opposed the embargo, including 62 percent of those 18 to 29 years old. In addition, 68 percent those surveyed last year favored restoring diplomatic relations with Cuba, fueled by an astounding 90 percent of young people. More recently, a nationwide poll by Bendixen & Amandi International found that a majority of Cuban Americans support Obama’s plan to normalize relations with Cuba, including 69 percent of 18-t0-29-year-olds; 60 percent of 30-to-49 year-olds, and even a 47 percent plurality of 50-to-64 year-olds. As for whether renewed ties will improve the lives of ordinary Cubans, the poll also found that 97 percent of the island’s residents believe that normalization will be good for Cuba.

This is the power of millennial foreign policy politics. By 2016, millennials will make up more than a third of the total electorate. And though Rubio might want to think of himself as a a “generational choice,” this new generation has already chosen. They want diplomatic engagement, not isolation. They want caution before intervention. They want the lessons that history has so clearly taught us about the limits of power to inform the way our presidents exercise it.

This millennial conviction will influence outcomes during the 2016 campaign, and perhaps no place more consequentially than Florida. While prevailing in the Sunshine State would certainly not guarantee an electoral-college victory for Republicans in 2016, the party’s path to the presidency becomes almost insurmountable without it. And, in a diverse swing state that President Obama won by less than a percentage point in 2012, the Cuban American voting bloc could prove to be the most important in the country. As New York Times polling analyst Nate Cohn wrote in December, “Cuban-Americans, in short, are the rare small demographic group that could easily decide a presidential election.”

All of this gives Hillary Clinton, Martin O’Malley and other potential Democratic candidates a clear opportunity. Not only can they portray their Republican rivals as stuck in a Cold War mind-set, they can show how disconnected Republicans are from the very voters they purport to represent.

Back in 2004, the New Yorker wrote that “Jeb Bush is largely responsible for the fact that most Miami Cubans are Republicans.” If most Miami Cubans turn out to be Democrats in 2016 — and if Republicans lose Florida as a result — Bush and Rubio could be a big part of the reason why.

Ciurana, Trump and Univision

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Six months after being named in a lawsuit by Donald Trump, Alberto Ciurana has resigned as Univision’s president of programming and content

And even though he wants to “spend more time with his family,” his decision has raised eyebrows and speculation that it had to do with Trump’s legal action.

Last June, Trump accused Ciurana of defamation when he posted in his Instagram Trump’s photo next to one of Charleston’s church shooter Dylann Roof with only one comment “no comment.” This was followed by a Univision motion to dismiss Trump’s suit, calling it “beyond frivolous.”

Last week, however, Univision CEO Randy Falcon sent an email to his staff saying “Beto” Ciurana will continue to work with Univision as a consultant until the company names his successor. “Beto has agreed to be available on a consultancy basis to help us with any transition and/or longer term needs the Company may have”

Univision launches first U.S. fact-checking project en Español

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Univision Fact CheckingNineteen debates into this primary season, we have yet to see a truly effective effort by the hosting networks to fact-check the candidates live on air.

Notable moments in this long slog included Becky Quick’s apology to Trump for being correct about his characterization of Rubio as “Zuckerberg’s personal Senator,” John Dickerson being booed by the audience for correcting Ted Cruz on the historical record of confirming Supreme Court nominees in an election year and Fox’s more muscular attempt to point out that Trump’s budget figures didn’t add up.

Wednesday night’s Democratic debate could have been different.

 

Univision’s newly launched Detector de Mentiras (Lie Detector), staffed by the network’s similarly new data unit, was supposed to provide fact checks to the moderators for live use during the debate.

 

Ronny Rojas, data editor at Univision News Digital, told Poynter that his team’s goal was initially “to interact with the candidates and to pass along to the moderators follow-up questions based on our findings after fact checking some of their statements.”

 

This proposal ultimately didn’t make the cut as Univision and the DNC ironed out the conditions of the debate.

 

Live fact-checking on air during debates has been attempted outside the United States. In the Italian Democratic Party’s primary debates of 2012/2013, broadcaster Sky confronted candidates with fact checks of their claims. While the results were mixed, it was nonetheless a structured effort that has yet to be seen in this election campaign.

Rojas, formerly an investigative reporter at Costa Rica’s La Nación, led a team of 10 to fact-check the debate online.

 

The team focused on the candidates’ statements on drivers’ licenses for undocumented residents, Hillary Clinton’s famously expensive speeches to Wall Street and the auto industry bailout.

 

“It was ambitious to launch this project on the night of an internationally televised debate, but they were prepared and it went quite well,” said Jane Elizabeth, who heads a project on accountability reporting for the American Press Institute and assisted with training.

 

As the first U.S.-based Spanish-language fact-checking project, Detector de Mentiras fits into a broader trend to expand the reach of journalism in this country to hispanophone audiences (2016 has also seen the launch of The New York Times en Español and CUNY’s new Spanish-language program).

 

Rojas said his team studied English-language fact-checkers at PolitiFact and The Washington Post (who alongside Factcheck.org have been on active debate patrol duty throughout this campaign), but is keen to make Detector de Mentiras develop its distinct personality.

 

While Univision “won’t exclude anything” in terms of what it will fact-check, it will “put a focus on issues that are central to the Hispanic population” such as immigration, education and health care, Rojas said.

 

Beyond language and topics, Rojas hopes Detector de Mentiras will stand out because it will rely more heavily on investigative reporting for its fact-checking.

 

This is in line with the background of the members of the data unit’s team of five, composed primarily of investigative journalists from across Latin America.

 

It also fits with Univision’s overall strategy in recent years; Poynter’s Al Tompkins says “Univision has been asserting itself as a significant player in investigative work over the past few years,” citing its Rape in the fields and Rape on the Night Shift projects.

 

Detector de Mentiras will be fact-checking U.S. presidential candidates throughout the general election campaign.

 

After that, Rojas hopes to extend the team’s scope and fact-check politicians across Latin America, as well as opinion leaders, business figures and entertainers, so long as the focus is issues of public interest.

 

Your Editor Asks: Is it a good idea to call them Mentiras (lies) or what about Exagerations?

Can Hillary Clinton Win Over Latino Voters?

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Cesar Vargas has a message for Hillary Rodham Clinton as she blames Republicans for a broken immigration system and seeks Hispanic support: “We’ve heard it all before.”

President Obama promised an immigration overhaul that hasn’t come, said Vargas, co-director of Dream Action Coalition, an advocacy group for young Latinos. And while Obama has made some progress on slowing deportations and other issues, he said, Clinton will have to show how she will get farther.

“That type of rhetoric is already stale, especially to the Latino community,” Vargas said. “It’s like a piece of stale bread.”

Clinton, who will traveled to Nevada recently for a campaign appearance aimed at Hispanics, faces politically tricky terrain on immigration and citizenship issues. She will be under pressure to declare much of the Obama immigration agenda a failure, and she also faces a Republican field with more potential appeal to Hispanic voters than in the past.

Clinton’s early and frequent attention to immigration issues in her four weeks as a 2016 candidate suggests that she has an eye on former Florida governor Jeb Bush in particular. Unlike some of his likely Republican primary opponents, Bush has also avoided taking positions that many Hispanics see as anti-immigration.

Vargas was among several activists and Hispanic leaders who spoke to Clinton political director Amanda Renteria ahead of Clinton’s trip to Nevada. His organization was also included on a conference call that Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta held with Hispanic leaders shortly after she announced her campaign last month.

“We saw President Obama, who promised the world to us and had a record number of deportations — more than any other president in history,” Vargas said. “If a timid President Obama won’t do it, what would a bold Hillary Clinton do?”

Clinton has met with young immigrants who, like Vargas, are among the estimated 1.7 million undocumented immigrants eligible for conditional temporary or permanent residency under an Obama executive order.

The 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, brushed aside years of congressional stalemate to grant de facto residency to qualified immigrants who were brought to the country as children. It could be undone by a future president, however, so Hispanic leaders are urging both Democratic and Republican candidates to promise to extend the protection.

For Vargas, who came to the United States at age 5 from Mexico, DACA meant he could live and work openly in New York City without fear of deportation. But the law school graduate may not be able to gain admission to the New York State Bar or serve in the military unless he gains full legal residency or citizenship.

Clinton has already indicated her support for DACA and has said comprehensive immigration reform is needed. But she has not articulated a full set of immigration proposals or said how she would get around staunch Republican opposition in Congress.

Comprehensive immigration reform could open a path to legal status or potential citizenship for the estimated 11 million undocumented people living in the United States, the majority of them Hispanic.

Clinton’s session at a Las Vegas high school was meant to showcase Clinton’s commitment to Latino young people, part of the unique demographic coalition that supported Obama over her in 2008.

“Clinton will focus on reforming the broken immigration system so we can keep families together,” her campaign said in announcing the visit,

Like Iowa and New Hampshire, Nevada holds one of the first presidential selection contests. The Nevada primary in 2016 will pose the first test of Clinton’s strength among Hispanic voters and her ability to re-create the winning Obama coalition of young people and minorities. About 1 in 4 Nevada residents is Hispanic.

Hispanics have voted largely Democratic for years, but concern that Clinton could be vulnerable to Bush among Hispanics may be part of the reason for Clinton’s early focus on immigration and citizenship. She has talked about immigration in her public speeches to a degree unusual for previous Democratic candidates, including herself.

“If he’s the nominee he will present the most compelling alternative to Hillary Clinton, and that could be a serious threat to her” among Hispanic voters, said Brent Wilkes, executive director of the League of United Latin American Citizens, or LULAC.

Two other GOP candidates, Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), are both of Cuban descent.

So far, Clinton’s policy positions and remarks on immigration have mostly served to draw a sharp divide between her and the more conservative Republicans seeking to oppose her next year.

“There are those who offer themselves as leaders who would deport mothers working to give their children a better life, rather than risk the ire of talk radio,” Clinton said at a women’s policy conference last month.

Clinton has also shifted her position to support the granting of driving licenses to undocumented people — an issue that hurt her during the 2008 election after she seemed intentionally vague.

“Hillary supports state policies to provide driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants. This is consistent with her support for the president’s executive action,” the Clinton campaign said last month.

In Nevada, undocumented residents can get a “driver’s authorization card” if they pass the regular driver’s test, a measure designed to make the roads safer because drivers know the laws and get insurance. But many have been flunking the test, and an initiative funded by the conservative Koch brothers is offering free tutorials along with conservative political evangelism.

The 2016 GOP field is split over immigration policy. Bush has suggested that he might support a path to citizenship for undocumented people, while Cruz has taken the firmest stance against easing any rules for those here illegally.

Two years ago, Rubio was at the forefront of efforts in the Senate to pass legislation that would have opened a path to citizenship. He has since disowned that proposal.

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