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Trump Heads To Little Havana For Latino Huddle; Gets Blasted By Ex-Miss Universe

C.M. Guerrero
El Nuevo Herald
Donald Trump receives a traditional guayabera shirt from Miami state Rep. Carlos Trujillo at a Latino town hall meeting in Little Havana Tuesday

Fresh off his first debate with Hillary Clinton last night, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump came straight to Miami today to meet with Latino voters – and found he still struggles to engage a voter bloc he’ll need more of if he wants to win the battleground state of Florida.

Trump this year had twice postponed meeting with Miami Latinos, but this time he made it happen: an invitation-only town hall meeting at Miami-Dade College’s Koubek Center in Little Havana.

Polls show Clinton, Trump’s Democratic rival, pulling ahead of him again in Florida. A big reason: Trump is far behind with non-white voters – especially Latinos, who are largely alienated by his harsh anti-immigration rhetoric.

Inside the Koubek Center, even Trump supporters stressed that issue.

“People did push the point that immigration is super important to us as Latinos, and for our support he really needs to see how he continues to present that case," said the Rev. Abraham Rivera, of Puerto Rican and Dominican ancestry, who is pastor at La Puerta Life Center evangelical church in Miami.

"But we’re still running up against this wall.”

Before the largely conservative Latino crowd of 150, Trump reiterated his pledge to pull back on President Obama's re-engagement with Cuba. Outside, Cuban-American Trump supporter Mariela Jewett of West Miami said she believes he would improve Latinos’ lives.

“Like he told the blacks, You’ve been voting 50 or 60 years for the Democrats. What have you gotten? Nothing," said Jewett, sporting a Trump T-shirt and a red cap with Trump's slogan, "Make America Great Again." "I think it’s the same for Latinos.”

  Maria Falcon made the trip to Little Havana from her home in Miami Beach to catch a glimpse of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. Earlier today he met with Latino Voters in an invitation-only town hall meeting at Miami-Dade College’s Koubek Center. Falcon said she'd go anywhere for #Trump. A video posted by WLRN Public Media (@wlrn) on Sep 27, 2016 at 4:36pm PDT

But Trump’s efforts with Latinos aren’t being helped by the Clinton campaign’s release of a video by 1996 Miss Universe Alicia Machado. In it the Venezuelan beauty queen tears into Trump – who then owned the Miss Universe pageant – for repeatedly humiliating her struggle with weight.

Tim Padgett is the Americas Editor for WLRN, covering Latin America, the Caribbean and their key relationship with South Florida. Contact Tim at tpadgett@wlrnnews.org
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