GOP taps Miami’s Helen Aguirre Ferré as Hispanic communications director

The GOP on Wednesday, June 1, 2016, named veteran Miami TV and radio host Helen Aguirre Ferré, shown in this 2013, file photo, as its Hispanic communications director.
The GOP on Wednesday, June 1, 2016, named veteran Miami TV and radio host Helen Aguirre Ferré, shown in this 2013, file photo, as its Hispanic communications director. jiglesias@elnuevoherald.com

For Republicans, the road to the White House runs through Florida — and its sizable Spanish-speaking population. To reach them, the GOP on Wednesday named veteran Miami TV and radio host Helen Aguirre Ferré as its Hispanic communications director.

Aguirre Ferré, 58, will be based out of the Republican National Committee's headquarters in Washington, although she told the Miami Herald she plans to make frequent trips to Florida, the nation’s largest swing state, and to Miami-Dade, the state’s largest and most Hispanic county.

“It’s in support of all the Republican candidates,” she said of her new position. “I just think that this is one of those years. We always say that every election is so important, but this election — everyone agrees — is particularly unique.”

Her message to “surrogates” — Hispanics who reach out to Latino voters on behalf of candidates and the party — will be in part that the lingering effects of the recession have hurt the Hispanic community.

“We can’t really afford a third term of the Obama administration, which is what Hillary Clinton is essentially guaranteeing us,” she said.

Aguirre Ferré, the daughter-in-law of former Miami Mayor Maurice Ferré, was born in Miami to a Nicaraguan family. She most recently served as a senior adviser to former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush’s presidential campaign, a role in which she spent several weeks in Iowa and Nevada reaching out to Hispanic voters. She will now be tasked with helping elect Bush’s chief foe, Donald Trump.

At the RNC, she will replace Ruth Guerra, who took a job with a Republican-aligned super PAC because she was uncomfortable working for Trump, The New York Times reported. Guerra has Miami ties of her own: She used to be a spokeswoman for local U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart.

Aguirre Ferré has publicly criticized Trump in the past; last month she told Univisión’s Al Punto Florida, “I do think there’s something that bothers him about strong and independent women.” But she went out of her way not to talk about him Wednesday to the Herald.

Her past #NeverTrump tweets, where she called him crazy and criticized Trump for inciting violence at his Chicago rally, have since been deleted.

“Wonder if @ChrisChristie and @Senator Sessions now regret supporting Trump or do the means justify the end? Telling either way,” she tweeted on Feb 29.

In a statement, RNC Chairman Reince Priebus stressed the party’s commitment to Hispanics, which the GOP has struggled to win over in recent election cycles.

“Helen will be an integral part of our party’s ongoing commitment to build relationships and communicate our message directly with Hispanic voters,” Priebus said. “Her wealth of experience is complemented by a keen strategic vision, top-notch communication skills and outstanding leadership qualities, and she is going to be a tremendous asset to the RNC as we seek to stop Hillary Clinton and elect a Republican president.”

Aguirre Ferré, a past op-ed Herald columnist, is perhaps best known in Miami for hosting until last year Issues with Helen Ferré, a current events show on public television’s WPBT 2. Until around 2015, she also hosted a Spanish-language radio show, which aired locally on the AM station WQBA, as part of a national network then known as Univisión América.