Newt Gingrich, a top adviser to Donald Trump, says the president-elect’s Cabinet choices have heartened his supporters, and he believes they are likely to sail to confirmation. But he has a caveat.
“There has to be more Hispanics in the administration,” Gingrich said in an interview on Wednesday. “I’ve been having conversations with them about it.”
As Trump has rolled out his Cabinet, no position that requires Senate confirmation has been given to a Latino, breaking with the last four presidents. Ronald Reagan was the first president to name a Hispanic to a Cabinet post, when he picked Lauro Cavazos to be his education secretary in 1988.
And for Trump, there’s not much space left at the top of his incoming administration. Only three Cabinet-level positions are unfilled — secretary of veterans affairs, agriculture secretary, and the U.S. trade representative.
The concerns about the lack of Hispanic representation are sharp amid changing demographics in the country and a divisive campaign stoked by Trump’s promise to build a wall along the Mexican border and his characterization of undocumented Mexican immigrants as “murders and rapists.”
The U.S. Hispanic population is about 57 million, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, making the group the country’s largest minority population and a crucial voting force for future Republican leaders who can’t rely on the large turnout of white men that helped seal Trump’s victory.
The National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials said that if Trump doesn’t pick a Latino on his cabinet, it would “mark an historic and alarming step backwards.”
“Picking a Cabinet member would be a way to bring Latinos who didn’t support him into the fold. He’s going to need them in two years. Republicans are going to need them going forward,” said Bill Richardson, a Hispanic who served as Bill Clinton’s energy secretary, in an interview on Wednesday. “He seems to not be worried about expanding his base.”
Trump’s team appears to be cognizant of the concerns. On Monday, Trump met with Luis Quinones, a member of his Hispanic Advisory Council and Jovita Carranza, a former deputy administrator of the Small Business Administration. His transition officials say a Democrat or Hispanic could be picked for one of the remaining slots.
Transition spokesperson Jason Miller notably said during a call with reporters on Tuesday that Carranza was a candidate for the U.S. trade representative position.
“We’ll have folks from all backgrounds from nominee, appointee to staff level,”…