From the Washington Post:
By Krissah Thompson, Published: December 5
Alfonso Aguilar shouts into the mike, gesticulating wildly to no one in particular on a recent Saturday morning. He is taping his radio show, which is recorded in the District and beamed into nine cities, including Houston, Chicago and Miami.
News has broken that Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney blames his election loss in part on “gifts” President Obama gave Hispanics and other minorities.
Aguilar — “La Voz de Los Latinos” (the Latino Voice) — is incredulous.
“He thinks Latinos voted for entitlements,” he tells listeners in Spanish. “Mr. Romney, Latinos didn’t vote for President Obama because they liked Obamacare. No, they voted for Obama because of your stance on immigration. In the primary, you moved to the far right.”
Not the kind of talk you’d expect from a committed Republican, a guy who stumped for Romney and whose employer ponied up $400,000 in anti-Obama campaign ads that focused on the administration’s record deportation rates. It’s a set of curiosities not lost on a caller from Los Angeles.
“How could you have supported him at all?” Francisco wants to know.
“I’m a conservative,” Aguilar responds.
But not just any conservative. Aguilar is a 43-year-old Puerto Rican-born former official in the George W. Bush administration; an opponent of abortion and same-sex marriage; a supporter of free markets and limited government. But on immigration, he has differed sharply with his party’s orthodoxy, unapologetically embracing comprehensive reform, including a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants.
With Obama promising to push immigration reform early in his second term, Aguilar is poised to be a driving force in the debate, helping to shape how Republicans respond to an issue of paramount importance to about 12.5 million Latino voters — a growing segment of the electorate that has continued to skew Democratic. In many ways, Aguilar already is a pivotal presence.
Jorge Ramos [see photo], a Univision anchor and the most influential Spanish-language journalist in the United States, sent a tweet to his 626,400 followers recently that could very well help define the next stage of Aguilar’s career. “Republicans you have to listen to for the immigration debate: Jeb Bush, [former commerce secretary] Carlos Gutierrez and Alfonso Aguilar.”
On the ego wall of his small K Street office, Aguilar has hung photos of himself with Pope John Paul II, former vice president Richard B. Cheney and a former governor of Puerto Rico, and a group shot of all the Hispanic political appointees in the Bush administration. Aguilar and the other Latino bureaucrats fill multiple rows, stretching along the entire facade of the White House.
(Thanks to the commenter who turned K Street into Que Street.)