Bush Woos the Latino Vote at Breakfast and Makes Tortilla

Times Political Writer

Vice President George Bush told a group of more than 300 people at a breakfast speech Wednesday in Orange that he is “just getting rolling” in his fight for the Latino vote for his Republican presidential candidacy.

“We intend to do well not just in California but in the whole Hispanic cul ture and the Hispanic community that makes up California,” Bush told the mostly Latino crowd on the patio of Moreno’s Mexican Restaurant on Chapman Avenue.

“So they haven’t begun to see me fight for the vote of Hispanic Americans, all the way from the East Coast to the West,” Bush said.

The 8 a.m. breakfast in the lacy shade of three huge peppertrees had been billed as the launching of a national “Hispanics for Bush” effort, and local GOP leaders were told that Latino leaders from around the nation had been invited to fly to California for the event. Shirley Abbott of Sacramento, a former ambassador to Lesotho in southern Africa, and Uruguay Ambassador Tom Aranda of Arizona were among those who joined local Latino leaders and Republican activists at the breakfast.


But some others listed in the text of Bush’s speech, including Florida Gov. Bob Martinez, were unable to attend. A spokesperson for Martinez said the governor

stayed in his own state for a clemency board meeting Wednesday morning. Martinez was among five national Latino leaders listed in the text of Bush’s speech as though they were in attendance but not mentioned when Bush actually delivered his remarks.

A Bush campaign spokeswoman, Donna Lucas, said the national leaders had been invited, but there was “never any understanding that those people were going to be there.”

“So there wasn’t a snub of the Vice President. They didn’t not show up,” Lucas said.


Bush, who also campaigned Wednesday in Fresno and San Francisco, reiterated his campaign’s assertion that Hispanics--who traditionally vote Democratic--are better off under a Republican Administration in Washington.

“Hispanic Americans have shared in America’s new period of economic growth . . . ,” said Bush, standing in front of a “Viva Bush” banner. . . . “But we’re not finished. As President Reagan likes to say: ‘You ain’t seen nothin’ yet.’ ”

Orange County Supervisor Gaddi H. Vasquez, a Bush supporter, said the breakfast was not actually a Bush campaign event but the first of many “Hispanic leadership breakfasts” featuring prominent speakers that he hopes to sponsor in the county. Vasquez, who paid for the breakfast, said he invited people without regard to their political parties.

“It was a cross-section of the community,” Vasquez said.


Though there were a few Latino demonstrators outside the restaurant with messages involving local issues--such as the location of a new county jail--targeted at Vasquez, the breakfast on the restaurant’s patio was a festive affair.

After being introduced by Gov. George Deukmejian, who was traveling with Bush, the Vice President eyed the tables laden with chips and salsa and announced: “The only thing I am determined to do is to get to eat breakfast.”

When he concluded his speech, in which he lambasted Democratic nominee Michael S. Dukakis for his positions on the national defense, Bush was serenaded by an eight-piece mariachi band as he sat down for a helping of machaca , beans, potatoes and corn tortillas.

Then Bush and his wife, Barbara, wandered over to an outside grill where Juana Perez and Luce Avila were patting out tortillas.


“I ate 2 1/2 of the darned things,” Bush told the women. Then the Bushes dipped their hands in water, grabbed some corn meal dough and took a turn at tortilla-making themselves, an event staged mainly for the television cameras.

“Mine has a hole in it,” Bush complained, holding up a mangled tortilla. “That’s what you call a doughnut tortilla.” But Perez and Avila proudly threw the Vice President’s mangled tortilla on the grill alongside their own.

Both Bush and Dukakis, who speaks fluent Spanish, are actively campaigning for the Latino vote. Dukakis is scheduled to meet with Orange County volunteers Saturday in Buena Park to launch a statewide grass-roots campaign effort that puts a heavy emphasis on Latino voters.

As of August--before major registration drives by both parties began--Latinos represented about 7.8% of the county’s 1 million registered voters, according to John Palacio of Santa Ana, Orange County coordinator of the Southwest Voter Registration Project. At that time, about 58% of Orange County’s Latinos said they were Democrats and about 33% said they were Republicans, Palacio said.


Bush stresses prosperity, patriotism. Part I, Page 21.