Posted: July 5, 2007 4:45 PM
Hunter Lone GOP Candidate at Latino Conference
Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., was the only Republican candidate to appear with his Democratic opponents at the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials’ annual convention last week.
He delivered a June 30th speech on immigration in which he stressed the need to beef up law enforcement along the boarder, extend the fence between the United States and Mexico, and take a tougher approach in general on immigration issues. Hunter “believes just as his pro-fence and anti-amnesty stance is in line with the convictions of all American communities, the Hispanic community is no exception,” said his national communications director Roy Tyler.
In an e-mail to the NewsHour, association executive director Arturo Vargas said, “Mr. Hunter was candid about his position on immigration and the border, not backing down at all on his position.” Nevertheless, Vargar added, “I don’t think he scored any points for articulating his position, however, I think he won big time with regard to appearing before this group. He received a standing ovation twice, when he was announced on stage and when he concluded. I think the gesture was a show of appreciation for Mr. Hunter’s show of respect, his positions notwithstanding.”
Hunter authored the Secure Fence Act of 2006, which calls for extending the San Diego fence 854 miles across California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. In a video posted on his campaign Web site, Hunter said only 2 miles of the fence have been constructed so far. He promised that if elected president he would complete the rest of it in six months. The congressman added that protecting the border is a national security issue, not only one of immigration.
Hunter also recently praised his Senate colleagues for rejecting the immigration reform bill, though the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials released a statement saying it was “deeply disappointed at the Senate’s failure to fulfill the mandate of the American people to fix our broken immigration system.”
While all the Democratic candidates attended the association’s event, all of the Republican candidates — except Hunter — declined the invitation citing scheduling conflicts.
“The Republican candidates have blown off Hispanics in Florida,” said state Rep. Juan Zapata, a Republican who helped bring the NALEO event to the state, according to the Associated Press. Zapata said he had hoped the conference would provide an opportunity for candidates to court Florida’s Hispanics. Instead, he said it became an embarrassment for the party.
“I’m somewhat offended because this is about Hispanics, not about politics,” said state Rep. Julio Robaina, also a Republican, the AP reported.
Hunter, this week, spent the fourth in Manchester, N.H. and is headed to Florida to deliver the keynote lunch speech at the Young Republicans National Federation convention in Hollywood Beach on July 6.