In Florida a shifting Cuban vote could be difference on presidency
MIAMI — Francis Suarez comes from a long line of civic and political leaders who have formed the Republican bedrock in south Florida’s Cuban community for a half-century. Yet the 38-year-old Miami city commissioner hasn’t decided whether he will vote for his party’s presidential nominee.And he’s not alone. Many Cuban-Americans express solidarity with other Latin-Americans who see Donald Trump as anti-Hispanic. Still others hear in Trump’s nationalistic populism echoes of the government strongmen they once fled.“There are aspects of Trump that appeal to parts of the Cuban-American culture: strong leadership, the ability and willingness to say bold things,” says Suarez, the son of a former Miami mayor and a potential chief executive himself. The concern, Suarez says, comes when Trump’s boorishness, bullying and slapdash policy pronouncements “cross the line from bold to wild, unpredictable.”How those misgivings influence the votes of hundreds of thousands of Cuban-Americans could tilt the nation’s most populous presidential battleground state and, depending on circumstances elsewhere, determine whether Trump or Democrat Hillary Clinton wins the election.Roberto Rodriguez Tejera, a well-known Spanish-language radio and television host in Miami, says he won’t endorse Trump or Clinton, arguing neither has engaged in genuine, personal outreach to average Cuban and other Hispanic voters. But Tejera asks his audiences to compare Trump’s assertions that “I am your voice” and “I alone can solve” societal ills to the initial appeals of authoritarian rulers like Cuba’s Fidel Castro and the late Hugo Chavez in Venezuela.