Wall Street Journal
By Beth Reinhard
June 1, 2016
The Republican National Committee has hired Helen Aguirre Ferre, a veteran journalist and adviser to former Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush, to serve as director of Hispanic communications.
She faces a tough challenge. Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump trailed Democratic front runner Hillary Clinton by 48 points among Hispanic voters in the latest Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll.
“Is it going to be tough? Of course,” Ms. Ferre said in an interview late Wednesday. “But Hispanic voters see that these last eight years of President Obama hasn’t done them any favors. That’s part of the reason people are looking for real change and Donald Trump presents that real change.”
Mr. Trump has been widely criticized in the Hispanic community for saying that Mexico sends rapists and drug dealers to the U.S., calling for a wall along the border, and advocating the deportation of millions of illegal immigrants.
Ms. Ferre, who lives in Miami, hosted a national radio program on Univision America Radio and moderated a weekly public affairs show that aired in South Florida. She is a lifelong Republican but never worked for a Republican candidate before Mr. Bush’s presidential campaign. Mr. Bush, who served two terms as Florida governor, was a harsh critic of Mr. Trump’s immigration policy and has not endorsed him.
Mr. Trump has done little Hispanic outreach, while Mrs. Clinton has a team of prominent surrogates speaking on her behalf on Spanish-language media.
None of the Hispanic leaders who have backed previous GOP nominees Mitt Romney and John McCain or President George W. Bush have come out for Mr. Trump. Ms. Ferre, who is the daughter-in-law of ex-Miami Mayor Maurice Ferre, is well known in the Hispanic community in Florida and around the country. She immediately becomes the most prominent Hispanic backing Mr. Trump, who at times has suggested he will outsource parts of his general election strategy to the RNC.
“Surrogates are always extraordinarily valuable, and I have many friends throughout the country,” said Ms. Ferre said. Asked whether Mr. Trump’s hard-line policy against illegal immigration will make it difficult to attract Hispanic support, she said, “On immigration, there are going to be positions where we are going to agree on some points and not on other points.”
Ms. Ferre will succeed Ruth Guerra, who is leaving the RNC for a conservative group, the American Action Network. A former RNC official said Ms. Guerra had concerns about the level of Mr. Trump’s commitment to Hispanic outreach and the divisive tone of his statements on immigration. She also was concerned about making the transition from running an RNC operation to a more candidate-driven operation.
In a statement provided by an RNC spokeswoman, she said, “I am proud of having been part of the RNC for nearly two years and the unprecedented work it has done to engage Hispanics across the country. I’m excited about my new opportunity with American Action Network to continue promoting conservative policies and ensure we maintain the majority in the House.”
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