Lindsey Graham gave a substantive policy speech today at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., about the threat of a nuclear Iran and why he opposes the recent treaty brokered by the Obama Administration.
Following his speech, he took questions on a number of issues — most of which were foreign policy related. However, one particular question stood out.
Graham was asked about Donald Trump and the issue of immigration. How difficult have the anti-immigrant positions of Trump and others made it for the GOP to attract Latino voters? And how would Graham overcome that if he were to be the nominee?
Graham’s full response can be found in the video below:
…You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out that to get to 270 electoral votes you have to do better with Hispanics. And apparently you do have to be a rocket scientist to figure out what’s going on in the Republican Party. All I can say is that if I were a Hispanic voter I would be attracted to the Republican Party of limited government, strong military, faith-based values. But I would have a hard time getting there if I believed they were going to deport my mother.
Let me tell you about life as it is… A young woman came twenty years ago with one child who’s illegal. Her and her husband are illegal. She’s had two more since then. Both are legal under the 14th Amendment. One has joined the Marine Corps. He’s been to Iraq once, Afghanistan once, fighting for all of us. Mom and Dad are very proud of him. They live in the shadows so he doesn’t have to.
He comes home and says, ‘Hey, where’s Mom?’ You haven’t heard? She’s walking back to Mexico. That’s self-deportation. Do you think that young man is going to listen to our agenda? And now in 2015 it’s not enough to drive all of them out, but we’re also apparently, according to Mr. Trump, going to drive out the American citizen children who have the same legal standing as everyone in this room.
To my party: we have an opportunity to win the White House, to do much good in this country. To my party: we are driving away the fastest growing demographic in this country. As to me, when they write the history of these times, Lindsey Graham, who is from the reddest of red states, can say the following: I refuse to break up families for my political benefit because I know what it’s like to have your family destroyed. I hope the party wakes up and that we’ll have a more sensible approach on immigration. If we don’t, we will lose, and we will deserve it.
Graham touches on a critical point: Can Republicans really win the White House if Hispanic voters believe the Republican Party hates them? It seems very unlikely, and Donald Trump certainly is struggling with Hispanic voters — 82 percent of Hispanics view him unfavorably, with 68 percent viewing him strongly unfavorably, according to a recent Washington Post/ABC poll.
Jon Schweppe is Deputy Director of Communications for American Principles in Action.