During a national television appearance with Univision’s Jorge Ramos and Maria Elena Salinas, Latino USA anchor and executive producer Maria Hinojosa said that Latinos were invisible at Monday night’s first presidential debate, explaining that even though Latinos are interested in the election, very few topics that interest Latino voters were discussed.
“It’s obvious that Latino and Latina voters are interested in this election,” Hinojosa said in Spanish. “The sad part up to a certain point is that we were invisible again. In other words, when it comes to issues and topics that interest us [as Latinos], that speak to us. We were invisible.”
Hinojosa then turned to Ramos and Salinas and added: “Like the two of you have said, we have to have Latinos and Latinas as part of these debates to bring this topics to light. We are a voting group that must be included in all this, but we aren’t.”
Recently, many prominent Latinos have asked why the current cycle of presidential debates does not have a Latino moderator. In addition, there was real-time online critiques that debate moderator Lester Holt did not ask any specific questions about immigration policy, a topic that still polls as a top issue for Latino voters and has also become a controversial cornerstone of Trump’s campaign.
The Futuro Media Group president was part a pre- and post-debate panel with the Univision anchors. Jorge Hernandez of the group Los Tigres del Norte also joined the discussion.
The following text is a rough translation of Hinojosa’s post-debate comments from the edited video featured at the top of this post:
JORGE RAMOS: Maria, who won?
MARIA HINOJOSA: You know, Jorge and María Elena, I think we need to see this within a historical context. It is perhaps the first time that we as journalists —and as citizens— have to decide who won a debate of this kind when we know that someone like Donald Trump, as reported by a paper of record in the United States, The New York Times, that Trump is someone who lies. So how are we judging a debate when we already know that we are commenting about someone who lies, and that is Donald Trump? We could say that he didn’t fully lose his patience or that she [Clinton] was completely in control. But for me, in explaining who won the debate, I am thinking about the voters. How many Latinos and Latinos who were watching this felt motivated by something they heard to the point that they will go out and vote? We don’t know, but yes, in the end, the topic of sexism, mentioning the name of Alicia Machado, who decided to become a citizen and whom Donald Trump insulted several times when she was a Miss Universe contestant. Maybe this example, especially for young Latinos, maybe that could motivate them to vote.
RAMOS: We have a few minutes left in this special coverage. What are your takeaways?
HINOJOSA: The same, thinking about how the Latino voter who has not yet decided. Listen to this, Jorge, right now we know that a quarter of the Latino electorate is either with a third party candidate, is still undecided or is thinking of writing in a candidate. Who are those Latino voters who have decided to not align themselves with either Republicans or Democrats? Fascinating.
MARIA ELENA SALINAS: It could be said that this debate was very contentious. At times it felt that the moderator Lester Holt was losing control.
HINOJOSA: Well, once again, it’s difficult at this moment when we see Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton together for the first time, how they acted off each other. But yes, in the sense that Hillary Clinton obviously has done her homework, she’s someone who is interested in politics and policy, she understands that. However, that can be both positive and negative. Instead of communicating with her heart at times, she might come across at times as a bit too technical.
SALINAS: Too rigid?
HINOJOSA: A bit rigid. On the other hand, Donald Trump, we started to see him appear to be in control.
RAMOS: At the beginning…
HINOJOSA: At the beginning, but then it didn’t take long for him to suddenly start interrupting, and that gave us a chance to see how he acts in a presidential setting, and that leads me think how he would act in an international situation with other presidents, and will he lose his patience?
SALINAS: Donald Trump has practically built his campaign via social media.
HINOJOSA: On another note, Maria and Jorge [points to Jorge from Los Tigres del Norte] are responding to Maria and Jorge. [Laughter.]
SALINAS: The two Marias and the two Jorges.
HINOJOSA; It’s obvious that Latino and Latina voters are interested in this election. The sad part up to a certain point is that we were invisible again. In other words, when it comes to issues and topics that interest us [as Latinos], that speak to us. We were invisible. Like the two of you have said, we have to have Latinos and Latinas as part of these debates to bring this topics to light. We are a voting group that must be included in all this, but we aren’t.
RAMOS: What did you think of Lester Holt? Lester Holt is the moderator of the debate. What did you think of his performance?
HINOJOSA: Well, I wouldn’t want to be sitting where he was sitting.
RAMOS: It’s hard.
HINOJOSA: Very hard. At one moment, I even tweeted ‘FACTS, FACTS, FACTS’ because at times when he was moderating, he couldn’t stop at each moment to say, ‘This is false. This is another false point.’ But there were certain moments when I thought that he had to define it more and ask for a clearer explanation from Donald Trump and from Hillary Clinton.
[At this point, Salinas explains what the fact checkers were doing that night.]
RAMOS: You’re getting animated, Maria, jump in.
HINOJOSA: You know, Jorge, people say that one of the reasons why Latinos don’t come out to vote in the large numbers that we could vote at, it’s because we don’t feel included in this country’s political conversation. Furthermore, many say that Latino families should be talking about politics when we are having dinner together or on weekends, especially talking about political topics when our kids are very young, too.
HINOJOSA: Start talking about the elections, about political parties, about participation, so that it becomes part of our culture. We shouldn’t see ourselves as Latinos separated from the political process, but instead, we should be saying, ‘This is our country.”
SALINAS: Not only understanding that the Latino community has to exercise their rights, but also take their responsibilities very seriously.
RAMOS: This is our country. Before the debate, I spoke with my son Nicolás and told him, ‘Nicolás, you have to see the debate.’ He wrote back to me and said, ‘Yes, Dad.’