The Republican candidates for the 2016 presidential election all seem to be taking a page out of Donald Trump’s controversial and, at times, just plain ignorant playbook; most recently, this has included Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who said last Thursday,”[Latinos] are great, caring, hardworking folks. And a lot of them do jobs that they’re willing to do. That’s why in the hotel you leave a little tip, you know”
Kasich and his team have since attempted to rectify the comments.
“All I was trying to say the other day is that I’m glad sometimes, in the middle of the speed of what I’m doing, that I can slow down and honor people who sometimes we run past very quickly,” said Kasich several days after making the remarks, adding that Latinos “contribute so much, and not just [to] one area, but they’re completely involved in all aspects of our economy.”
At the time the comments were made, though, Kasich was singing a very different tune; he followed his remarks up with a story about a Latino housekeeper at a hotel who once left him a kind note and how he requested extra soap from her.
Chris Schrimpf, a spokesman for the governor, also defended Kasich’s remarks, insisting that Kasich “was talking about how great the service was and how we should respect everyone in our society, no matter what their job or position might be.”
While some groups did not find the comments as offensive as others, citing Kasich’s more liberal views on immigrants than some of his fellow Republican party contenders, they were by no means seen as praise.
Ammar Campa-Najjar, a spokesman for the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, said that “[Kasich] has a more compassionate view than other candidates in the Republican Party”; however, he also added that the Ohio governor is “light years behind people like Hilary Clinton or Martin O’Malley or Jeb Bush in his full comprehension of the overarching contributions of the community.”
The group described Kasich’s rhetoric as “well-intentioned but extremely awkwardly phrased.”
Javier Palomarez, the group’s president and CEO, added, “In my personal observation of John Kasich, he still represents that compassionate conservatism that has very much a Ronald Reagan feel to it,” he explained.
Although Kasich’s remarks seem tame when compared to the likes of Trump, who described Mexican immigrants as “rapists” just several months ago, they further emphasize the Trump effect that has brought controversy to the Republican party. And not everyone was as understanding as Palomarez and his group.
Hillary Clinton reached out to Kasich via Twitter to share her opinion on his choice of words and commented on Trump’s clear influence on his fellow party mates.
Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) September 18, 2015
Clinton’s tweet roughly translates to, “Another product of the Party of Trump John Kasich. Talking about Latinos doesn’t just mean talking about tips.”
Meanwhile, many people felt similarly to Clinton.
Jorge-Mario Cabrera, who is the communications director of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, described Kasich’s words as “lack[ing] history, sense of how important immigrants are to our economy, and [a] vision where immigrants are more than just ‘the help.'”
“Most candidates have lopsided, stereotypical ideas about immigrants,” Cabrera said, “which include the sense that immigrants, especially undocumented immigrants, are only good while serving others.”
Angelica Salis, the group’s executive director and the daughter of a maid, was also less than pleased by Kasich’s comments. Rather than leaving a tip at a hotel, Salis explained, people need to “show respect to their entire contributions.”
“As Latinos, we participate in every single industry and aspect of society. While we are so proud to be working in the service industry, we’re not just that agricultural workers and maids in hotels,” she said. “There’s pride in that. However, I think it just reflects the one-dimensional view of Latinos in America.”
Pablo Manriquez, the Democratic National Committee (DNC)’s Director of Hispanic Media, called for Kasich and the rest of the GOP caniddates to “try serving instead of stereotyping Latino voters,” urging them to focus on political issues the Latino community faces rather than reaffirming false stereotypes.
“Try advocating for a path to citizenship, or keeping immigrant families together,” Manriquez said. “Try pushing for policies that will make education for affordable, or will improve health care, or help the middle class.”