The US Hispanic Chamber of Commerce issued a furious statement Friday after the group said real-estate mogul Donald Trump backed out of a presidential-candidate event scheduled for next week.
“With an 84 per cent disapproval rating among Hispanics, Trump’s decision to withdraw from the session only deepens our community’s already negative perceptions of him,” the Chamber said in a statement, apparently referencing a poll that found 84% of Hispanics said they “definitely would not” vote for Trump.
The statement further said that Trump, the Republican front-runner, had publicly committed to its October 8 candidate session.
Ammar Campa-Najjar, the Chamber’s communications director, emailed reporters a link to an interview last month in which Trump said that he would attend the event.
“So, I will be going down at some point in October or whatever. I will go to Washington,” Trump told radio host Geraldo Rivera, according to a Fox News Latino transcript. “That won’t be that easy a meeting because you’ll have hundreds of people … and they may disagree with me, but ultimately we will all get along.”
The Chamber said Trump withdrew from the event because he was concerned of being “put on trial.” However, the group insisted that Trump would have been treated like any of the other candidates who have agreed to attend its question-and-answer sessions.
“Withdrawing from the Q&A can only suggest that Trump himself believes his views are indefensible before a Hispanic audience,” its statement declared.
The Trump campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Business Insider on the Chamber’s broadside. But it’s possible that Trump thought the event would be unfair to him.
On Thursday, Politico’s Ben Schreckinger interviewed Campa-Najjar and declared that Trump was walking into a “buzzsaw” due to his presidential campaign platform, which includes a vow to deport the millions of people who have immigrated into the US illegally.
“I’ve been tight-lipped for a while, but I’ve got to speak up now,” Campa-Najjar told Politico. “It would be funny if it wasn’t so sad that this man is leading in the polls and that this is his idea for a fiscally responsible, fair and feasible plan for dealing with immigrants.”
View the Chamber’s full statement below:
The USHCC’s Q&A with Donald Trump is officially cancelled. After having [publicly] confirmed, Mr. Trump has chosen to withdraw from the USHCC’s Presidential Candidate Q&A Session, scheduled for October 8th in Washington, DC. Mr. Trump was unwilling to abide by the terms and conditions of the USHCC’s Presidential Candidate Q&A Series – the same rules that all participants have previously followed. The USHCC refused to change the format of the forum, show any favoritism, exclude any issues or topics, or grant any immunity from objective scrutiny of his policies. As a result, despite having agreed on numerous occasions, Trump has now reversed his position and has elected to not participate in the Q&A Session – making him the only candidate from either party to do so.
Trump’s decision to forfeit the Q&A session was motivated by the concern of being ‘put on trial.’ Trump would have been treated no differently than other candidates. As stated previously, as with all candidates, we want our members and the American people to hear from each presidential hopeful, away from public spectacle of the debate floor, to form their own opinions. The Q&A series was designed to ensure that every candidate can explain in detail their political ideology, policies, and campaign rhetoric in a thoughtful, deliberate, and substantive fashion. Withdrawing from the Q&A can only suggest that Trump himself believes his views are indefensible before a Hispanic audience.
The USHCC’s objective was to engage Trump on a wide array of issues that all Americans care about, including: jobs and the economy, small business, taxes, international trade, national security, race relations, women’s rights and immigration. As it relates to immigration, our objective was to refocus the national debate toward the more positive, fact-based, and economically sound narrative that the USHCC has been advancing for years, long before the 2016 election cycle.
While we’ve disagreed on various issues with other candidates, we commend Senator Ted Cruz, Governor Martin O’Malley, Senator Bernie Sanders, Governor Jeb Bush, and Governor John Kasich for having the courage, conviction, and respect to address our members directly and candidly.
With an 84 per cent disapproval rating among Hispanics, Trump’s decision to withdraw from the session only deepens our community’s already negative perceptions of him. We look forward to the future engagements we have confirmed with other Republican and Democratic candidates, including Senator Marco Rubio, Carly Fiorina and Secretary Hillary Clinton.
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