WASHINGTON – In a first, the nonpartisan U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce endorsed Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton on Wednesday, saying it believes that Donald Trump’s campaign is “the antithesis of American values.”
The business group represents hundreds of businesses ranging from Fortune 500 corporations to family-run shops across the country. Several members of the organization’s board of directors are prominent Republicans.
But Javier Palomarez, president of the chamber, said that Trump “has openly mocked and marginalized women, Hispanics, veterans, African-Americans, Muslims and the disabled, while turning a blind eye and a deaf ear to the dangerous undercurrents of antisemitism and homophobia emanating from his campaign and his followers.”
The endorsement comes on the third day of the Republican National Convention and just before Clinton is set to select her running mate. The chamber announced earlier this year that it was endorsing Julian Castro, secretary of Department of Housing and Urban Development, to serve as vice president – another unorthodox move, but Palomarez noted that the group has worked with Castro dating back to his days as a Texas mayor.
Castro’s standing in the veepstakes appears to have slipped, with Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack now seen as top contenders. Another Hispanic official, Labor Secretary Tom Perez, is also in the mix, according to multiple people familiar with her plans.
As for Trump, Palomarez said: “We cannot stand silently in the face of a campaign that is intent on dividing our country by pointing fingers and assigning blame for America’s problems to entire creeds or ethnic groups.
“The Trump campaign is the antithesis of American values,” he added, “and we must not allow the candidate who espouses these dangerous ideals to reach the highest elected office in the land.”
The chamber endorsed during the presidential primaries, supporting Clinton over Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont on the Democratic side, while giving Ohio Gov. John Kasich a boost in the final days of his GOP presidential campaign. Palomarez said at the time that the organization usually didn’t make an endorsement during the general election in order to remain nonpartisan.
The chamber says it represents roughly 4.1 million Hispanic-owned businesses that generate $661 billion in annual economic activity.