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How The Trump Administration Can Reach Latino Voters

LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

Latinos make up almost a third of eligible voters in Nevada. They were key in the 2018 election when they helped elect a Democrat senator, flipping the seat. But Republicans see an opening to attract Latinos in this presidential election. As part of our series looking at key groups voting in swing states, we're joined now by Councilwoman Victoria Seaman in Las Vegas. She is a Republican who supports Trump, and she recently attended a Latinos for Trump roundtable. Welcome.

VICTORIA SEAMAN: Thank you for having me, Lulu.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: It is great to have you. What's the GOP message to Latino voters in Nevada right now?

SEAMAN: Well the message is see what the president has already done for Latinos. In 2018, the poverty rate for Hispanic Americans reached the lowest level on record. Hispanic households reach a historic high with median incomes surpassing 50,000 for the first time on record. His tax cuts are putting more money not only in Hispanic pockets, but everyone. And so the message is the Democrats haven't delivered, and President Trump has.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: A new poll shows Biden leads among Latinos in Nevada 56 to 32. But this is all about the margins, as you know. I'll quote John Ralston here, editor of the Nevada Independent. He says the Hispanic number is not terrible for Trump and indicates that Biden has yet to close the deal. If Trump is in the 30s among that cohort, he could win here. That's a big jump for Trump. What's behind it in your view?

SEAMAN: First of all, look back at the polls in 2016. We see that President Trump overwhelmingly won despite the polls. But...

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Well, we should say that the state did go for Hillary Clinton.

SEAMAN: ...It did, but he lost by three points. And right now, he has over 60 paid staff on the ground here. They've made over 2 million voter contacts, and they're working hard with the support of Latinos for Trump, Black Voices for Trump, Asians for Trump. So the support and the response from those different groups are really helping President Trump in Nevada.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Well, Councilwoman, let me ask you this. Is there something other than an economic message? You've mentioned that. The economy does matter to Latinos at polls, you know, in the top three, but so does health care. So does immigration.

SEAMAN: Right.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: And the president on those two issues does not poll well. He has no health care plan that is clear. And his record on immigration is very, very complicated and, some would say, speaks for itself.

SEAMAN: Well, I think his policy on immigration is good. It's not all about, you know, a border for security for illegal immigrants. It's about security for drug trafficking, human trafficking across the border. I think the No. 1 priority for Americans right now is public safety.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: But not among - not for Latinos, though. For Latinos, really, it is health care. I mean, for example, Obamacare is overwhelmingly popular among Latinos. So I'm just curious - when those issues come up, how do you address them?

SEAMAN: Well, quite frankly, it hasn't worked for most people in general because by the policy of Obamacare, most your hard-working Americans were paying three times or four times more for their health insurance. We're not talking about the wealthy. We're talking about working class families. So I believe, as President Trump believes, it needs to be fixed.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Last question - the pandemic. Obviously, it has disproportionately affected the Latino community, and you see that in the numbers specifically in Nevada. Has that been raised as a concern when you talk to Latinos and particularly Latinos who might vote Republican?

SEAMAN: No, it hasn't.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Do you find that surprising?

SEAMAN: No. I think everybody's concerned.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: With 200,000 dead?

SEAMAN: I really think that we're - a vaccine, I believe, is coming. I think people understand that this was something that no one expected. And I think that the president has done a great job with COVID. I have - that is not a concern that people call me up and ask me about. Now that we've come to where we are today, the biggest concern for people is their job. We still have a high rate of unemployment right now due to the pandemic. That is what people are looking forward to the future - to make sure that they're going to be able to go back to work and put food on the table.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: City Councilwoman Victoria Seaman in Las Vegas, thank you very much.

SEAMAN: Thank you so much for having me. I really appreciate it. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.