Public radio from Western Michigan University 102.1 NPR News | 89.9 Classical WMUK
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
Classical WMUK 89.9-FM is operating at reduced power. Listeners in parts of the region may not be able to receive the signal. It can still be heard at 102.1-FM HD-2. We apologize for the inconvenience and are working to restore the signal to full power.

Democratic campaign committee commits millions to engage voters of color

A MARTÍNEZ, HOST:

As Republicans choose a nominee for president, Democrats are trying to figure out how to hold on to the White House, the Senate, and take back the House of Representatives. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, known as the D-triple-C, says it's committing millions of dollars to engage voters of color, a big part of the party's coalition. Robert Garcia is a Democrat from Southern California, and he's working on this. He wants to reach immigrants in their native languages. Garcia was born in Peru and spoke with our co-host Steve Inskeep.

ROBERT GARCIA: I didn't become a U.S. citizen until my early 20s. Spanish is my first language. When my family and I started voting, it was a difficult transition to kind of learn the system. But there are folks that helped us through that. And I think we have a responsibility as Democrats, and particularly our candidates across the country, to speak to every community, especially those that are majority-minority communities.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

I'm thinking of a notional person, but there would be real people who would answer to this description, who would say, I'm an immigrant or from an immigrant background. I also come from a relatively conservative place. I'm religiously conservative. I don't believe in abortion rights. I run a small business. I have kind of Republican principles. Is that a real voter that you need to worry about losing?

GARCIA: That's a real voter that we need to talk to. I mean, you're describing much of my family, you know. And so I think all those issues that you just mentioned are really important to voters. What's also really important is having a president and members of Congress that are actually going to uplift our issues and actually fight for working-class people, and they're not going to just focus on tax cuts for the very rich. And I think that's the overall message that we've got to get across.

INSKEEP: You said when I described that more conservative voter from an immigrant background that I was describing a lot of your family. What kinds of conversations have you as a progressive had with members of your family?

GARCIA: My family in general, which are socially conservative Catholics, they, like anyone, will struggle with certain things that they believe in. But I'm proud of them that at the end of the day, they're voting for the best interests of their family, and I'm proud that they vote for Democrats. And then when they're reminded of what the stakes are, I think they do the right thing. And that was the case in the last election. Overwhelmingly, communities of color voted for Democrats, and that's going to happen in 2024.

INSKEEP: So your case to your family is, look at your overall interests. You're not with me on issues one, two and three, but I'm with you on issues four through 10.

GARCIA: And I would argue that issues four through 10 are critical to the success of the family.

INSKEEP: My co-host and colleague Leila Fadel has many discussions with people of Arab or Muslim backgrounds...

GARCIA: Yes.

INSKEEP: ...Who are deeply upset with President Biden over the Israel-Hamas war, his strong support for Israel and what they see as a failure to support Palestinians or to stop what they may even regard as genocide in some cases. What are you saying to Arab American voters who say they cannot stomach voting for Biden again?

GARCIA: I think what we have to remember is that we're going to - between President Biden, who is trying to lead us out of this war and into a place of security in the Middle East, we're going to have on the other side Donald Trump, who is a demagogue who has implemented a Muslim ban, who has said horrible things about Arab Americans in this country. He has built no coalition within that community. I think at the end of the day, our coalition of people of color are going to support Joe Biden and are going to support congressional candidates, Democratic candidates, across the country. We're going to win the House back in 2024.

INSKEEP: If you were going door-to-door trying to canvass voters and came across someone who says, can't stand Joe Biden, can't vote for him, would you go so far as to say, well, at least show up and vote for a Democratic House?

GARCIA: Absolutely. I mean, look, we want people to vote in this country. I mean, they need to vote for the members of Congress, and they need a vote to reelect Joe Biden.

INSKEEP: One other question - we should note that the Republican nominating contest is not over, although Trump seems to be in a dominating position at the moment. How would your arguments have to change if the Republican nominee were Nikki Haley, who is from an immigrant background and has spoken differently about immigration and some other issues.

GARCIA: Well, I think, first, Nikki Haley is not going to be the nominee (laughter). I mean, we got to be honest about what's happening. Donald Trump is running away with this nomination. And it's unfortunate, but, you know, it is what it is.

INSKEEP: OK.

GARCIA: And so I think Nikki Haley - sure, I think obviously has - might have some slight differences than Donald Trump. But her record is the same. You know, anti-choice, certainly anti-LGBTQ+ rights, has said also really horrible things about immigrants, will not actually take on Donald Trump and his policies in the way that members are running in that primary should have done. And so I don't think she'd be much different. Her agenda, essentially, is the new national Republican agenda...

INSKEEP: And your case...

GARCIA: ...Of choice.

INSKEEP: ...To voters would be the same in that case.

GARCIA: Yeah, I think our case to voters would be the same. I think we'd have the same campaign.

INSKEEP: Representative Garcia, thanks for coming by our studios.

GARCIA: Happy to be here. Thanks so much. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.