Carlos Perez, one of Ronald Reagan's closest Miami advisers and a Radio Mambi talk host who is influential in Florida's Cuban-American community, says there is growing resentment among Hispanics due to “lies and distortions” from GOP candidate Mitt Romney targeting former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.
Perez told Newsmax in an exclusive interview Saturday afternoon that a backlash is brewing against the Romney campaign’s allegation that Gingrich tried to undermine former President Ronald Reagan’s agenda.
Perez was a close adviser to President Reagan, and Reagan even acknowledged his Cuban-American friend's achievement during a State of the Union address.
“Among Cuban-Americans, you can bet your life Newt Gingrich will win the primary election,” Perez flatly predicted.
Perez, host of a popular Miami radio and television show, said Hispanic voters and especially Cuban-Americans are now “backing Newt Gingrich dramatically” and “getting a little bit mad at the Romney campaign.”
Perez endorsed Gingrich’s presidential bid on Monday. On Saturday, he told Newsmax that the buzz in the Cuban-American community has turned strongly pro-Gingrich.
“I have not seen one Republican candidate in the last 20 or 30 years that has the knowledge, the experience, the ability, and the great ideas that Gingrich has, not only with respect to Cuba, but with respect to other situations,” Perez said. “…I feel there is going to be a tremendous reaction in favor of Gingrich among the Hispanic and the Cuban voters here in South Florida."
Perez says that Cuban-Americans have been impressed by the fact that Gingrich has vowed to back a "Cuban Spring" -- promising to back an overthrow of the Castro regime.
Gingrich said this week that as president he "will not tolerate" the continuation of the Castro regime and will back a democratic uprising in Cuba, much like the one Reagan backed in Poland under communist rule.
Gingrich's pro-democracy comments for Cuba are the strongest of any presidential candidate since President Reagan, Perez told Newsmax.
Cuban-Americans have lauded Reagan's strong support for pro-democracy movements throughout the Caribbean and Central and South America.
Perez said Cuban-Americans are “extremely concerned” that Romney has tried to distort the historical record.
“Newt Gingrich without any question follows those ideas,” Perez told Newsmax. “And it is a shame that Romney’s attack is trying to distort that. That is not nice, that is not fair. It is creating a backlash among Cuban-American and other Hispanic voters here in South Florida.”
Gingrich’s effort to win over Cuban-Americans in the waning days of the campaign in Florida have been bolstered by the former Rep. Dan Burton’s presence with him on the campaign trail.
The Indiana Republican is revered in Cuban-American circles for co-sponsoring the Helms-Burton Act, which bolstered international sanctions against the Castro government.
In 1996, as part of a crackdown against the Castro regime, former President Bill Clinton signed the Helms-Burton Act into law.
“He’s an extremely popular man among Cuban-Americans,” Perez said of Burton, “because he’s a co-author, along with Sen. Jessie Helms, of the Helms-Burton law that is one of the best laws that has been implemented in the U.S. Congress against Fidel Castro.”
Perez said that the buzz in the Cuban-American community has turned strongly pro-Gingrich.
He added that Cuban-Americans are skeptical of the pro-democracy pledges made by the other candidates during the GOP debate in Jacksonville.
“Cubans have been, let’s say, vaccinated by all the politicians who come here during elections and make empty promises,” Perez told Newsmax. “For 50 years, we’ve been hearing the same thing.
“But who is the true person who could really make some basic changes concerning the situation in Cuba? That’s Newt Gingrich. He has the ability, the personality, to solve problems, and he is a man of great intelligence,” he said.
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