By Dena M. Burroughs
Newt Gingrich seeks friends at Cielito Lindo
It cannot be all that easy to come to a vastly non-Republican area to fundraise and try to get some support amongst Latinos. Yet that is exactly what Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich did on February 13 at the popular Mexican restaurant Cielito Lindo, in South El Monte.
The fancy tour bus sporting his face and the message: “Newt 2012 – Rebuilding the America We Love,” was parked in front of the restaurant where it got much attention from the people driving by. According to a volunteer, there were over 200 rsvps into the event. Inside, in a group that didn’t seem quite that large but that included one of El Monte’s council members, Bart Batel, people first listened to Gingrich speak and later took their chance to ask questions.
“Will you promise us in the future to talk about Latinos also as professionals and business people? Not all Latinos are illegal,” said a man in attendance. This was followed by another man asking what Gingrich is planning to do about immigration issues. Without making it a long response, Gingrich spoke about his goal to create a guest worker program that will allow people to work in the US legally and his plans to provide some concessions of residency for foreigners who have already lived in the US for many years and who have been exemplary citizens.
Gingrich did not talk about any of the other Republican presidency hopefuls, but he did speak quite a bit about why people should not re-elect the current president. Obama is quite proud that children can now be under the parents’ health insurance until they are 26 years old, he said. “Wouldn’t it be better if children could find a job at 20 or 21 and get their own insurance?” For that, the crowd cheered. “If you want to continue keeping people dependent then vote for Obama,” he said. “But if you want liberty and independence, then Newt is your man.”
The media got a turn with the politician after his speech and so did the many who wanted to snatch a picture with him. Those in attendance received stickers reading “Newt Con Nosotros” and were served margaritas and appetizers.
According to Gingrich this visit to our sister city kicked-off his California campaign tour which would continue that same evening someplace in Pasadena but that would be put on hold just for a bit the day after, on Valentine’s Day, for “a private dinner, [to] exchange gifts, and reconnect a little bit” with his wife, he said.