Hillary Clinton

In historic move, Latin Builders back Clinton

Hillary Clinton speaks to a crowd of supporters during a political rally at the Coral Springs Gymnasium on Sept. 30.
Hillary Clinton speaks to a crowd of supporters during a political rally at the Coral Springs Gymnasium on Sept. 30. mocner@miamiherald.com

Miami’s Latin Builders Association, which bills itself as the nation’s largest Hispanic construction group, has endorsed Hillary Clinton, the first time the conservative-leaning, largely Cuban-American organization has backed a Democrat for president.

LBA leaders plan to meet with Clinton behind closed doors Tuesday, when she will hold a rally at Miami Dade College’s Kendall Campus with former Vice President Al Gore.

“Throughout its 40-year history, the LBA has consistently endorsed candidates who have conservative principles, a pro-business mindset, believe in limited government regulation, and possess strong business ethics and family values that have closely aligned with ours,” LBA President Alex Lastra said in a statement. “In the past, these candidates have tended to be from the Republican Party.”

But, Lastra added, the president should also “ possess the right temperament, sound judgment, knowledge of national and international issues and the ability to bring people together, regardless of party affiliation.”

“It is clear that, in this election, the candidate whose values best align with the LBA and who possesses these important qualities is Hillary Clinton.”

For Republican Donald Trump, failing to win the LBA’s endorsement represents a double political rejection: from conservatives and from builders, his business tribe. “Make Homebuilding Great Again,” read a sign at the Fontainebleau Hotel in Miami Beach when Trump addressed the National Association of Home Builders in August.

Last year, the LBA ditched Trump National Doral golf resort as the venue for its biennial gala, citing Trump’s “recent pattern of bigoted, sexist and ignorant verbal assaults on immigrants, women and veterans.”

At the time, hometown Republicans Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio were running for president. The LBA’s stance was seen as a nod to both Trump rivals — especially Rubio, a former LBA director.

Getting behind a Clinton is a more dramatic political step for the LBA’s board of directors. Though nonpartisan, it has almost exclusively backed Republicans in its 41-year history — not just for president, but for most elected positions on the ballot. In 2012, it supported Rick Santorum; in 2008, John McCain.

The LBA board voted on the endorsement a couple of weeks ago, Lastra told the Miami Herald.

“The temperament issue, for a lot of us, it weighed heavily on the decision,” he said.

Polls show Clinton trouncing Trump among Florida Hispanics by as much as 30 percentage points. A Univision survey released last week found Cuban-American voters evenly split between the two candidates. Most Cuban Americans live in Miami-Dade: They make up nearly three-quarters of the county’s registered Republicans.

Established in 1971, the Doral-based LBA boasts more than 650 member companies.

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton argued over leaked tapes and deleted emails at the second presidential debate in St. Louis on Sunday night, but somewhat astonishingly managed to find something nice to say about one another in the end.

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