Donald Trump seeks to build bridges with Hispanic evangelicals

Donald Trump is to address the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference this weekend, via a pre-recorded video message.


The presumptive Republican presidential nominee will make his first formal address to a Latino organisation, in a move to repair previously damaged relations with the significant Latino evangelical voting bloc.

"He must redeem the narrative with Latinos, and in particular people of faith," Rev Samuel Rodriguez, president of the leadership conference, told Bloomberg Politics.

The Latino evangelicals are seeking a candidate who endorses "pro-life, pro-family, religious liberty, immigration reform agenda", he said.

Rodriguez emphasised that the inclusion of Trump's message does not equate to an endorsement, and said Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have been approached to do similar videos.

Trump's message will be played to more than 1,200 Hispanic leaders who are meeting to discuss the "issues that are important to evangelical Latinos", Rodriguez said.

Trump has previously referred to Mexican immigrants as "rapists" and "drug dealers", promised to build a wall along the US-Mexico border, and suggested that undocumented immigrants be deported.

"It would be the first time that I'm aware of that he's addressing, even though it's a videotaped message, a Latino organization," said Brent Wilkes, national executive director of the League of United Latin American Citizens.

"He's going to have to face the music and go out and talk to the community that he's been denigrating."

Latino evangelicals are yet undecided on who to vote for in the 2016 presidential race, Rodriguez told Bloomberg.

"The NHCLC stands committed not to the agenda of the donkey or the elephant but exclusively to the lamb's agenda," he said.

"Accordingly, we will encourage Latino people of faith to vote life, family, religious liberty and immigration reform."