Latino leader attacks Clinton campaign for taking Hispanic vote for granted

Hispanic business leader regrets decision not to name Latino running mate but Clinton campaign disputes exit polls that say 29% of Latinos voted for Trump

Hillary Clintons presidential campaign made critical errors in its handling of Latino voters, giving them the impression they were being patronised and taken for granted in a way that depressed turnout and could have cost her the White House, a prominent leader of the Hispanic business community has charged.

Javier Palomarez, president and chief executive of the US Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (USHCC), made an impassioned critique of the tactics deployed by the Clinton campaign in its attempt to garner Latino support.

While he defended the former US secretary of state herself as being an excellent candidate, he accused her senior advisers of giving poor advice about how best to woo his community, leading in his view to the disaster of election night in which national exit polls suggested Donald Trump secured 29% of the Hispanic vote.

We thought this election cycle would be different, Palomarez told the Guardian. Unfortunately, Hillary Clinton was advised once again by Beltway advisers who knew it all, had the models and the projections, but who called it wrong.

The USHCC was singularly invested in the outcome of Tuesdays election, as it had endorsed Clinton for the presidency the first time it has done so for any candidate in its 38-year history. The chamber is the largest Hispanic business organization in the country, with 4.2m businesses on its books that contribute $668bn to the US economy.

Palomarez was especially scathing about the decision to choose Tim Kaine, a senator from Virginia, as Clintons running mate, passing over the rising Hispanic star Julin Castro, currently housing secretary within the Obama administration.

I have to believe that if she had a Hispanic standing beside her she would have got more of the young vote, more of the Hispanic vote, and today she would be president-elect, he said.

He blamed the decision on what he called the young white Ivy League- educated kids who were advising Clinton.

Palomarez is convinced the top team around the Democratic nominee came to the conclusion that given Trumps extremist comments about criminal Mexicans, the Latino vote was secure and could be taken for granted.

Somewhere along the line they decided that they had the Hispanic vote in the bag and there was no need to worry about it, he said, but you have to ask today: did that strategy of blowing off the Hispanic vote work for them?

Palomarezs comments are some of the sharpest criticisms to be leveled at the Clinton campaign since the autopsy began following her unexpected defeat in Tuesdays presidential election. The Latino vote had always been a central part of Democratic strategy, with hopes high that a sleeping giant would finally be stirred to action by Trumps virulent anti-immigrant message.

But nationwide exit polls suggest that the promise failed to materialize. They show that Clinton took 65% of the Latino vote, down from Barack Obamas 71% in 2012, while Trumps 29% share was actually two points up on Mitt Romney.

Clintons pollsters, Latino Decisions, have vociferously disputed the exit polls, arguing that they give a completely false picture of what happened on election day. The polling company claims the exit polls grossly underestimate precincts with high proportions of minority voters in them.

Matt Barreto, Latino Decisions principal pollster to the Clinton campaign, told the Guardian that in his opinion Palomarezs criticisms were reflective of widespread frustration at Trumps victory.

If Clinton had won, he said, people would now be praising the campaigns Latino outreach they are frustrated not with the campaign, but with the outcome of the election.

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