Univision’s Jorge Ramos tried - but spectacularly failed - to get one of the nation’s top Hispanic evangelical leaders, Rev. Samuel Rodríguez, to sign on to the left’s tireless campaign of calling presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump a racist.
In fact, in an interview on the Univision anchor’s weekly Al Punto show, Pastor Rodríguez did more than just refuse to assent to Ramos’ characterization of Trump as a racist. He also admonished Ramos to be more careful about his fast and loose use of the term, as well as acknowledge other insidious forms of racism.
REV. SAMUEL RODRÍGUEZ, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL HISPANIC CHRISTIAN LEADERSHIP CONFERENCE: Is it not racism to have multiple generations depending on the government for their income without giving them opportunity to rise above and succeed? Is that not that racism? There is implicit and explicit racism, and I have suffered from both racisms. So for me, we have to be careful in describing that every word is racist, because in both campaigns I would be able to evaluate comments that could be evaluated as racist comments or political myopia.
Rodríguez was grilled by Ramos as if he were a Trump surrogate, despite previous clarifications made by the Pastor that he does not endorse any of the presidential candidates. The interview was remarkable because it was one of the rare moments when one of Ramos’ invited guests, with class and aplomb, challenged the activist-anchor’s slanted narrative, and did not fall for Ramos’ usual race-baiting.
Rodríguez was among the group of religious leaders who recently met with Trump in New York, and he told Ramos he was pleased with the exchange he had with the presumptive Republican presidential nominee. Rev. Rodriguez went on to say that he would like to see both changes in Trump’s rhetoric, as well as changes in rival Hillary Clinton’s policies and legislative priorities, mentioning that he will continue to seek and engage in dialogue with both sides.
According to the Pew Research Center, Hispanic evangelicals are growing as a group, and both Hispanic Catholics and Hispanic Evangelicals are pro-life by large margins, and pray often. Should you decide to wait for Jorge Ramos to acknowledge truths such as these when he trumpets the power of the Hispanic vote as a virtually monolithic, “immigration-only” voting bloc, you may very well die waiting.
Below is the transcript of the relevant cited portions of Jorge Ramos’ interview with Rev. Samuel Rodríguez, which aired on the July 3 edition of Univision’s Al Punto.
JORGE RAMOS, HOST, AL PUNTO: ...one of the Latino leaders who met with Trump is the Rev. Samuel Rodríguez, who is followed by millions of Christian believers, many of them Latinos. But meeting with Trump does not mean supporting him. Pastor Rodríguez accompanies us via satellite to tell us what he told Trump. Reverend, thanks for being here with us.
REV. SAMUEL RODRÍGUEZ, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL HISPANIC CHRISTIAN LEADERSHIP CONFERENCE: My pleasure. Thanks for having me.
JORGE RAMOS, HOST, AL PUNTO: Let's start with the basics: You met with Donald Trump. What impression did he make on you?
REV. SAMUEL RODRÍGUEZ, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL HISPANIC CHRISTIAN LEADERSHIP CONFERENCE: That's right, I had two meetings with him. One, with a more personal dynamic, a smaller group, 30 people, and then with about a thousand pastors and leaders. The impression I received: the purpose in meet with him was not to endorse him or give him my support. I'm not endorsing either Hillary or Donald. I am supporting and endorsing Christian values and our Latin American people. But I was worried, obviously, about the rhetoric of the past. I wanted Mr. Trump to understand the vitality of our community, what we have to offer to the American people as a whole, for the political process in this election, and I had this conversation with him. And I'll be honest with you: privately, he was very keen, he listened to me really well. There was a very strong, impressive statement, I tell you clearly, and then, at the public meeting, with about a thousand people present I asked him. I said to him, 'Mr. Trump, you have spoken of building a wall, a wall between here [the United States] and Mexico, but how are you going to build a bridge? Can you build a bridge with the Latin American people? Are you be able to build a bridge with Hispanic American people?' and he said yes. He said, 'Pastor Samuel, my commitment is to help Hispanics with jobs, with better education, with opportunities, and I want to stop what is illegal immigration, but I want to support and lift the Hispanic people,' and he said like two or three times 'the Hispanic people are going to love me, the Hispanic people are going to love me, the Hispanic people are going to love me.' That’s how we ended the conversation.
JORGE RAMOS, HOST, AL PUNTO: Well, the reality is that, according to the Washington Post, 89% of Latinos have a negative opinion of Donald Trump. For you, pastor, is Donald Trump a racist?
REV. SAMUEL RODRÍGUEZ, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL HISPANIC CHRISTIAN LEADERSHIP CONFERENCE: Well, I am a pastor, right? And as a pastor, I do not like to involve myself in phraseology, or words that are not properly raised on a platform with clear evidence. That is to say, one of my mentors, my heroes, has always been Martin Luther King Jr., and I follow his steps. His daughter, who is part of my board and one of my counselors, Bernice King. And to use that phrase, I, who have suffered racism, I know what it is to have [been discriminated against], have had eggs thrown at what is my house and on my car for being Latino. They have spoken badly of me for being Latino. I've experienced racism from elementary school in a very Anglo-Saxon neighborhood. That phrase is very strong to put on a human being without having all the clear evidence...
JORGE RAMOS, HOST, AL PUNTO: But is it not racist, Reverend, to say that Mexicans are criminals and rapists? Is that not racism? Is it not racist to say that 1.6 billion Muslims should not enter the United States simply because of their religion? Is that not racism?
REV. SAMUEL RODRÍGUEZ, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL HISPANIC CHRISTIAN LEADERSHIP CONFERENCE: I do not endorse nor support, and I have chastised and condemned negative rhetoric about Muslim people, about our Mexican people, about the comments about those who are rapists and who enter here to kill, that kind of thing. At the same time, we can put that and compare it to other comments from other campaigns that one can also evaluate and say in an implicit way,this may also be racism. The treatment of the Hispanic American community with some schools where they teach Anglo children one thing and a very cheap, very minimal thing [education] to Latino children. Is that not racism? Is it not racism to have multiple generations depending on the government for their income without giving them opportunity to rise above and succeed? Is that not that racism? There is implicit and explicit racism, and I have suffered from both racisms. So for me, we have to be careful in describing that every word is racist, because in both campaigns I would be able to evaluate comments that could be evaluated as racist comments or political myopia.
JORGE RAMOS, HOST, AL PUNTO: As you know, Donald Trump has insulted women. He has called some of them 'dogs', he has called them 'pigs', has called them 'animals'. How do you respond to that? That is…
REV. SAMUEL RODRÍGUEZ, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL HISPANIC CHRISTIAN LEADERSHIP CONFERENCE: Horrible, horrible, horrible, terrible, and that's why, my purpose again in meeting with Donald Trump, and as well my inclination is to do the same with Hillary Clinton, too, is talking about the vitality of our community, and change the rhetoric not a little, change the rhetoric in a very positive way...
JORGE RAMOS, HOST, AL PUNTO: But do you think he is listening, Reverend? Do you think Donald Trump is listening to you? Because many are concerned that if you... at least 16 million Christians in the United States follow you, and if you meet with Donald Trump, in some way… do you not worry that Donald Trump is using you, Reverend?
REV. SAMUEL RODRÍGUEZ, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL HISPANIC CHRISTIAN LEADERSHIP CONFERENCE: Jorge, one of the things that motivates me, again, forgive me for repeating this, is not only the teachings of Jesus Christ, who had a lot of meetings, lots of controversial meetings with people that even his own disciples would tell him 'Don’t meet with them'. At the same time, Martin Luther King, Jr. talked about meeting with people with whom we do not agree, with people that have said or done things that do not correspond with our values, but that meetings is important. Conversation changes lives and hearts. I believe in being a light in the darkness, and people will not change if there is no relationship, if there is no interaction. And I would like to see changes not only with Donald Trump's rhetoric, but with some of the legislative initiatives of Hillary Clinton. I would like to see changes in both campaigns. And the only way those changes are going to take place is through a conversation or an engaged civil interaction with love and mutual respect.
JORGE RAMOS, HOST, AL PUNTO: Did you agree to meet again, Reverend, you and Donald Trump?
REV. SAMUEL RODRÍGUEZ, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL HISPANIC CHRISTIAN LEADERSHIP CONFERENCE: There… there is an inclination to continue the conversation. We managed to say there that we will continue our conversation, yes.
JORGE RAMOS, HOST, AL PUNTO: Are you worried about Donald Trump as President?
REV. SAMUEL RODRÍGUEZ, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL HISPANIC CHRISTIAN LEADERSHIP CONFERENCE: I worry... I worry... I worry about the rhetoric of Donald Trump, some of the things he's projected as his political initiatives, and also with Hillary, I'll be clear with you. I have great concern with Hillary Clinton at this time, and I have concerns with the rhetoric of Donald Trump. So, I am concerned person at this time...
JORGE RAMOS, HOST, AL PUNTO: But you’re not supporting anyone. You’re not supporting any candidate. And do you plan on support one [of them] before November?
REV. SAMUEL RODRÍGUEZ, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL HISPANIC CHRISTIAN LEADERSHIP CONFERENCE: No, no. I'm going to be clear with you: I will not endorse any candidate, either Hillary or Donald Trump. But I will communicate with both to present the importance of the Latino people and Latino people of faith. The meaning, the transforming political vitality that our community carries with it. It's something very strong, very powerful, and I want both campaigns to respect our community and endorse our values.
JORGE RAMOS, HOST, AL PUNTO: Because you know, Reverend, that millions follow you, so what you do is politically very important.