MIAMI — The Miami crowd waits. A campaign surrogate introduces, say, Ricky Martin, who grabs the microphone and thunders that the Hispanic community will not stand for Donald Trump's divisiveness. Between songs, and before the next artist, Martin tells everyone to take out their phone and text LATINOS to 47246 if they want to stop Trump.
That's the kind of scene the Clinton campaign is hoping for if their early plans to hold a major concert in Florida with Latinos in mind pan out, according to three sources with knowledge of the early planning.
Leading up to the March 15 primaries which feature big prizes like Florida, Ohio, Illinois, North Carolina and Missouri, the Clinton campaign has said its focus is on Bernie Sanders.
But behind the scenes, some planning is taking place about strategies for facing Donald Trump, including engaging the groups he has angered with comments on Mexicans and immigrants, to waffling on disavowing the endorsement of groups like the KKK and proposing a ban on Muslims entering the country.
A face-off with Trump wouldn't be about "winning" the Latino vote, but about maximizing support from the community, and a major concert with Latino artists is being discussed. Latino outreach director Lorella Praeli is said to be leading the effort.
One source said the concert conversation went from possibly doing the event before the primary in Florida to becoming one centered on the general election, with the idea of saving something like that for Trump. Two sources said they heard the concert is in the works but is being delayed until the general election because of the sheer work and logistics that would go into coordinating an event with major artists.
"There’s been a lot of artists who wanted to do something from Marc Anthony to Maná and others," said Democratic donor Freddy Balsera, who is bundling for the Clinton campaign. "These events are tough to organize. Artists say let's do it but it requires logistics. Musicians are very specific, for example, about their sound quality, they don’t just start singing."
The campaign, sources said, has to first identify all of the artists that would want to be a part of an event like this, then must coordinate getting everyone at the same venue at the same time. One major artist who the campaign hopes to land for the event is Juanes, who has not publicly endorsed Clinton yet, but would appeal not just to Latinos in Florida but also Colombians.
The Clinton campaign disputed that they would save anything for the general election. Campaign officials said that if Martin said he wanted to host a concert they would not tell him no. The officials said that coordinating a major artist's schedule with the way campaigns work is difficult, noting that you can't just tell Martin that you want him to show up for a concert In two months.
And campaign officials said that if Juanes or Maná want to endorse or hold a concert they would welcome it.
Democratic strategist Maria Cardona, who supports Clinton, said the concert would be something done in the summer in a general election matchup with Trump and told the story of speaking with Eva Longoria last week — who was in Florida to help launch "Mexican-Americans for Hillary" and spoke at an event along with Clinton after the Univision debate in Miami.
“She said, 'We have to do everything in our power to defeat this man and it may sound like a cliché but your voice is your vote: This will effect your family and your children’s future,'" Cardona said.
Balsera warned that the controversial Republican frontrunner could appeal to conservative Hispanics, underscoring why the Clinton campaign is right to treat him seriously and engage Latinos early on.
"Trump is going to do better than expected among Hispanics in Florida," he said. "I’m hearing it a lot. A lot of old Cubans that are not going to vote for Rubio and instead are going to vote for Trump. They don’t give a shit about his comments about Mexicans because they don’t identify as Mexican. Puerto Ricans as well."
Balsera said senior Clinton staffers he has spoken with agree with his assessment.
"They're going to have a fight on their hands," he said.
That's why the campaign is moving on the logistics for the concert now, hoping to present a major show of force showing Trump that Latinos largely repudiate him.
"The consensus is that it will have a bigger effect if they wait," a source said. "It would be a unifying thing."
Adrian Carrasquillo is the White House correspondent for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, DC.
Contact Adrian Carrasquillo at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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