Is it possible that the Democrats’ secret weapon for the 2016 election and crushing Trumpmania is… Ricky Martin??
After a concert in San Antonio on Oct. 3, the onetime “Livin’ la Vida Loca” superstar held a secret meeting backstage with an envoy of the Latino Victory Project, an initiative co-founded by actress and Democratic bundler Eva Longoria. The organization is dedicated to strengthening Latino political power in America.
With the 2016 race spawning the meteoric rise of Trumpism, the Puerto Rican singer has been getting more politically vocal than he has been in recent years. And Hispanic activists, liberals, and presidential campaigns are taking note—and are now actively recruiting Martin for this election season, hoping to expend his role well beyond simply endorsing the Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton.
“I worked with Ricky Martin during the 2012 re-election campaign for President Obama; he hosted an event with us in New York,” Henry Muñoz, Latino Victory Project co-founder and top Democratic fundraiser, told The Daily Beast. “My interaction with his activism extends back a few years. The meeting [in San Antonio] was really to circle back…to discuss how he has decided to use his voice in this moment in our country’s history…We discussed ways that we might work together again, not just in this election cycle, but in a more sustainable fashion to encourage leaders in [the Latino] community to do the same thing.”
The pair had a long, sit-down conversation that turned to preliminary brainstorming on potential social-media campaigns, and which types of grassroots events (GOTV, or voter registration, or battleground states, for instance) Martin would have the biggest impact. More broadly, the two discussed Latino engagement and bigger-picture ideas for building on the community’s political influence, and laying the framework for collaborations between Martin and the Latino Victory that could come down the pike in the coming months before Election Day.
The meeting was also, in part, meant as an in-person thank you to Martin for helping to lead the early celebrity charge against Donald Trump’s immigrant-baiting presidential run.
Martin’s publicist did not respond to a request for comment on this story.
Martin, who has condemned Trump’s rhetoric as vile and “racist,” penned a Spanish-language op-ed for Univision in August, urging Latino citizens and voters to band against The Donald.
“We have to defeat the power that Trump pretends to have over Latinos, anchored in low rhetoric and xenophobic speech, which his campaign team is convinced works for him,” he wrote. “Xenophobia as a political strategy is the lowest you can go in search of political power. This is an issue that unites us and we need to battle it together, not just for us but for the evolution of humanity and those to come.”
Senior members of Latino Victory were pleased with what one staffer called Martin’s “clarion call for Latino leaders to step up,” and quickly got in touch. “He’s very gracious, very excited, very hopeful, and aware that now is an important moment to not let people say that we are less than who we really are,” Muñoz added.
Longoria, who has been friends with Martin for years, was also involved in the recruitment of the Latin pop star.
“Ricky Martin is among the most prominent and important voices for Latinos today,” Cristóbal Alex, president of the Latino Victory Project, said. “He's been at the forefront coming out for LGBT rights, as well. He’s a critical voice in our community." (Earlier this year, Martin opened up about his life as a single gay father.)
In a way, Martin has been solidly in the Democratic Party camp ever since he quite literally gave the finger to President George W. Bush in 2007. On issues of gay rights, immigration, and the Iraq War, Martin is your classic bleeding-heart liberal. And now he has his mind set on doing whatever little he can to help defeat the Republican Party and their extremist frontrunner.
In another sign that Martin will figure more visibly into the celebrity-Democratic complex that has become so blaringly apparent on the campaign trail, Martin recently bylined a message for Team Hillary urging supporters to join him “as a member of LGBT for Hillary!”
“Growing up in the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico, I never dreamed that I would one day be a proud, out gay father of two beautiful little boys, in a country where marriage equality was the law of the land,” Martin wrote in a fundraising email this month announcing the launch of “LGBT for Hillary.”
When he endorsed Clinton, he branded her, “Latina at heart.”