As Donald Trump’s transition operation nears its conclusion, with most cabinet and other top-level posts being filled or nearly filled, there is a rather glaring, if unsurprising, diversity issue: no Latinos at all.
As things stand right now, Trump could become the first president since Jimmy Carter without a Latino cabinet member. Given all the boasting we’ve heard about Trump doing better than Mitt Romney among Latino voters (that’s what the exit polls showed, though some experts on Latino voting ain’t buying it), despite his various slurs against this demographic group, you’d think he’d want to provide some visible evidence of the idea that Latinos love him just like everybody else.
But efforts to make at least a token gesture in this direction are running up against a common issue in Trumpland: The Boss doesn’t much want to hire people who weren’t with him during the campaign. Latinos for Trump was not exactly a deep well of leading talent, as former Energy Secretary Bill Richardson notes in a Politico article on the problem:
“No established Republican Hispanic endorsed him,” he said. “So there’s not many people to pick from. You take the top Latino leaders. A lot of them endorsed Hillary. He doesn’t have a lot of options. These people weren’t with him. And now he’s not going to pick him.”
An unlikely coalition of Trump staffers and allies is trying to convince the president-elect this is a personnel issue he needs to attend to immediately.
Some Trump aides such as senior advisor Steve Bannon and transition finance chair Anthony Scaramucci see appointing FOX News host Kimberly Guilfoyle, who is half-Puerto Rican, as press secretary as an answer to the Hispanic issue. They are pushing for her to take the top press job over Sean Spicer, who has been lead spokesperson for the campaign and is seen as the favorite for the job, according to sources familiar with the matter.
“There are no Hispanics appointed in the administration and no one in the cabinet,” said a transition source who is an advocate for Guilfoyle. “[Trump] has the opportunity to do it now but he’s dragging his feet on it.”
Well, that’s an opportunity that has now passed, as the Trump team announced Spicer as the new press secretary today (Spicer will be assisted by Trump campaign hands Hope Hicks, Jason Miller, and Dan Scavino, none of whom is Latino, either). Beyond that, you’ve got a problem when your list of appointees is too white for Steve Bannon (or for that matter, Newt Gingrich, who is also quoted in the Politico piece as being worried about Trump’s failure to include Latinos in his initial appointments).
Unless something changes, Trump may be courting the impression that he thinks disrespecting Latinos is okay now because it did not keep him from becoming president. Or maybe he really does think (as he boasted during the campaign) he’s going to win 95 percent of the African-American vote in 2020, and that’s all the diversity he needs.