Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton offered markedly different messages to a Hispanic audience in California on Friday night -- in style and in substance.
The presidential candidates' comments -- in video messages played to an evangelical group -- may be a preview of how the presumptive Republican nominee and likely Democratic contender will appeal to a group of voters whose support will be crucial in the November election.
Trump stresses that drug dealers must be prevented from sending shipments over the border from Mexico, while Clinton calls out Trump's past incendiary remarks and describes him as "dangerous."
The candidates both filmed two-minute videos to be played at the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, the country's largest Hispanic evangelical conference. About 1,200 evangelical leaders are gathered at the event, spearheaded by Samuel Rodriguez. Organizers shared the two videos with Bloomberg Politics.
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Stylistically, the candidates' videos are a study in contrast. Trump is filmed earlier in the day Friday on his private jet, reading a single sheet of paper with typewritten bullet points. At one point, he almost knocks his script off the table. His video appears to be shot with a cellphone held vertically, preventing the footage from filling the screen. Clinton's appears to have been filmed in a studio with professional lighting and she seems to read from a teleprompter, with a map of the world behind her. It's stamped with a watermark identifying it as paid for by her campaign.
"We're going to stop drugs from pouring into our country. We're going to strengthen our country," Trump says in his first address tailored exclusively to a Hispanic audience. "People are going to come into our country, but they're going to come in through a process. They'll come in legally but we're going to stop the drugs and we are going to curb our debt."
“We’re going to take care of you. We’re going to work with you. You’re going to be very happy. You’re going to like President Trump," he says.
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Clinton uses her remarks to remind the audience that her Republican rival last summer referred to people crossing the U.S.-Mexico borders as rapists and drug runners.
"We're hearing some divisive and dangerous rhetoric in this election. We have a candidate who wants to tear families apart and forcibly deport 11 million undocumented immigrants; who calls Mexicans rapists; who talks about banning Muslims from entering the country. That is not who we are as a people," Clinton said.
Trump was looking to break down the political wall between him and a segment of Hispanic voters: Latino evangelicals who tend to vote Republican. But he faces an uphill battle. A Fox News Latino poll released Friday shows that 62 percent of Hispanics would vote for Clinton if the election were today; 23 percent would vote for Trump. Fully 74 percent have a negative view of him; 41 percent feel unfavorably about her.
Rodriguez, who is president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, told Fox News' Greta Van Susteren on Friday that Trump needs to "change the narrative" if he wants to win Hispanic evangelicals. Rodriguez, who is one the nation's most influential Hispanic leaders, said that the Hispanic evangelical voting bloc is "very independent, very fluid" and "reconciles Billy Graham's message" with Martin Luther King's.
"The problem with Donald J. Trump is that he engaged with rhetorical demagoguery and rhetorical hyperbole," Rodriguez said on Fox. "Can Donald Trump redeem the narrative? I'm a pastor. I do believe in miracles but, boy, this would be a miracle."
Trump talks about “minority unemployment," saying "it's a huge problem. It's really unfair to minorities." Clinton refers to “people no matter how hard they work still live paycheck to paycheck.”
They both talk about education.
“We’re going to create good schools, and I mean in some cases great schools -- and really safe communities because our communities in many cases are not safe, which is very very unfair to Hispanics and frankly everybody else,” Trump says.
Clinton says: “Let’s … give everyone a quality education no matter their zip code.”
He makes no mention of God or religion, but says: “National Hispanic Christians -- three great words.” She mentions her faith, quotes a Bible passage, calls for making sure people live up to their “God-given potential,” and wishes them “Godspeed” as she signs off.
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