By Stephen Elliott, courtesy of The Dispatch
BETTENDORF — The first Latina immigrant to hold the position of U.S. Treasurer said Saturday the Republican Party is going to pay at the polls for comments made about the country’s Hispanic population.
Rosario Marin, who served as U.S. Treasurer under George W. Bush from 2001 to 2003, said the Republican Party she grew to love, starting with her first vote for Ronald Reagan back in 1984, has lost its way.
Prior to her keynote address before the Greater Quad Cities Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Ms. Marin spoke about some of the challenges the country is facing today, including a presidential election that has produced hostility and polarization among the masses.
“Today, my party, the people I have worked so hard for, when I listen to the discourse, it’s just painful,” Ms. Marin said.
Ms. Marin is a businesswoman, author and internationally sought after public speaker, according to the American Program Bureau.
She also served in former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s cabinet as Secretary of the State and Consumer Services Agency from 2006 to 2009.
She said the language used by Republican presidential candidates, such as Donald Trump, takes the party down a notch. She said Ronald Reagan drew her to the Republican Party.
“When I met Mrs. Reagan, I told her precisely that,” she said. “He (President Reagan) made me feel welcome.
“I think it’s one of the problems that I see for people in my situation, the Latino conservative Republicans,” she continued. “With the options we have right now, the only option we have is (John) Kasich).
“I never say his (Mr. Trump’s) name.”
She called him, “The little orange man,” who has insulted her as a woman, an immigrant, a Mexican immigrant, and a mother of a child with a disability.
“The guy has insulted me one way or another,” she said. “I have no love for this gentleman.”
As for immigration reform, Ms. Marin said both Democrats and Republicans have failed in their efforts.
“Immigration is an issue being used by both parties for their political purposes,” she said. “It’s easy to do this. When the Democrats were in power, they could have had immigration reform, whether with President Clinton or President Obama. They had the Congress, the Senate, and the White House.
“They chose not to do that. Right now, the rhetoric on the Republican side against undocumented immigrants, I see our party taking the biggest hit.
“At least the Democrats don’t insult us. They don’t help us, but they don’t insult us.”
Ms. Marin, who completed the Program for Senior Executives in State and Local Government at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, was scheduled to speak to 380 people Saturday.
She came to the United States at age 14 from Mexico City.
“This is the greatest country in the world,” she said. “How this immigrant who couldn’t speak English when she arrived became treasurer of the United States, this is the land of opportunity.
“Nobody can tell me that you cannot make it, that life is hard. I know life is hard. If you work, and you don’t ever give up no matter how many times you get down, you just get up. Nobody is going to come in and give you anything on a silver platter.
“You’re going to have to work hard. But, you can make it.”
One of the areas she has worked on is helping the approximately 10 million unbanked Americans, or those who have no bank account. Alvaro Macias, GQCHCC chairman, said Ms. Marin’s inspiring message along with her knowledge of America’s financial system were some of the reasons he asked her to speak in the Quad-Cities.
“A lot of Hispanics are largely unbanked,” Mr. Macias said. “They might use fringe products and they might be taken advantage of. They might not know the language, the options, or what credit is for.
“A lot of Americans in general could use this financial education. That’s why we were very interested in getting her here. She was at the very top level of government.”
Mr. Macias said there was an excellent turnout Saturday.
“Our group is becoming stronger in the Quad-Cities,” he said. “We regularly see new faces at our events.”