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Opinion: Newt Gingrich says, ‘'Hola, L.A.’’

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California Republicans and Latino voters have had a rough patch in their relationship for, oh, going on 20 years now –- ever since Proposition 187, the vast anti-illegal immigration ballot measure, parted the political waters and estranged many California Latinos from the Republican party for a generation.

This week, into this complicated history and this Latino-heavy part of California, came Newt Gingrich, the former House speaker and GOP presidential candidate, to raise money and raise some support for his campaign among Latinos.

There were a couple of points during Gingrich’s whirlwind visit that surprised me -- surprised that perhaps Gingrich, a former history professor and now a student of Spanish, hadn’t done all his homework.

The event at a South El Monte restaurant was billed as a ‘Hispanic Leadership Event.’ Maybe that’s the word they use in Eastern time zones -– Georgia, Gingrich’s home state, has a Hispanic Chamber of Commerce -– but in these parts, the term ‘Latino’ is far and away more common and even preferred.

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And then, also at the South El Monte event, Gingrich reiterated his pledge to kill the Environmental Protection Agency, as a job-killer ‘with no sense of responsibility.’

South El Monte is at the heart of a major Superfund cleanup site, a place where the groundwater was contaminated over decades with industrial solvents. As recently as last year, several companies that owned or ran operations there have agreed to pay a total of $13 million toward the federal cleanup, with several more such claims pending.

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-- Patt Morrison


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