Published August 29, 2012
They are proud of their Latino roots, and proud of their party – the GOP.
Ralph Alvarado, 42, is a delegate from Kentucky and this Republican National Convention is his first.
"It's a big deal, you are selecting potentially the next leader of this country, the leader of the free world," he told Fox News Latino.
While Republicans have made a big to-do about their Latino-heavy convention line-up, they have been relatively mum about their Latino delegates. That's apparently because there are so few. The numbers have been tough to come by, and finding Latino delegates in the sea of mostly white faces of the convention hall has been even more difficult.
But the few who are there say they are happy to represent their party, and point proudly to the many Latino speakers at the RNC, saying that's a sign that their party is best for Hispanics.
Los Angeles Mayor Anthony Villaraigosa criticized the GOP's efforts this week, saying the lineup of Latino speakers at the convention was "window-dressing."
For Alvarado, a physician who has owned a small medical practice in Winchester, Kentucky for the last 14 years, the most important issue is the Affordable Care Act known as Obamacare.
"We are talking about selling our practice," the doctor said, who serves a large farm community including many undocumented immigrants. "Most physicians I talk to feel that the general feel of the doctors is that all of the joy has been removed because of Obamacare."
Critics have faulted the RNC for not matching the diversity on stage among its delegates, more than 90 percent of whom are reportedly non-Hispanic whites. Efforts to get a racial and ethnic breakdown of delegates at the RNC have been unsuccessful – fueling the criticism by some that the GOP is simply at odds with Latinos.
But the Latino delegates in Tampa say the opposite is true.
"We have more Hispanics at this convention than we have had in many conventions that I have ever gone to including those that aren't necessarily political," said Bertica Cabrera Morris, is a small business owner and an adviser on Mitt Romney's Hispanic Outreach campaign.
"I am telling you the Florida delegation, the Texas delegation, the Puerto Rican delegation - we are all at the table at this convention."
The Republican party was also criticized during its 2008 Republican convention, where 93 percent of its delegates were non-Hispanic white, five percent were Hispanic and two percent were black, according to recent polls.
At the Democratic convention four years ago, 65 percent of the delegates were white, 11 percent were Hispanic and 23 percent were black. The Democratic convention, scheduled next week in Charlotte, N.C., is expected to be at least 40 percent minority.
Delegate demographics aside, Bentica, believes more Latinos will vote Republican this year because of their economic situation. Since Obama came into office she has been forced to close two family restaurants, including one that’s been in her family for 30 years.
“It had the best Cuban sandwiches in Orlando,” she said. “And black beans.”
Her motivation, she says, is to help Hispanic small businesses in her area.
The Florida delegate was once a chairwoman for Senator Marco Rubio’s Hispanic outreach campaign in the hotly contested I-4 corridor in central Florida, which has a large number of Puerto Rican voters.
She also believes immigration is overplayed by the media in Florida.
“Puerto Ricans and Cubans don’t have the immigration issue,” she said. “I think it’s a lack of understanding about our culture,” she said.
Follow Bryan Llenas on Twitter @Bryan_Llenas for up to date information from the RNC convention in Tampa.