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Jeb Bush adds veteran Hispanic operative Emily Benavides to bolster outreach

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Jeb Bush hired veteran operative Emily Benavides to help bolster Hispanic outreach in his likely presidential campaign.

Benavides joins Right to Rise PAC as communications adviser and spokesperson specializing in Hispanic media. This would then become a senior position in a potential campaign, reports Adrian Carrasquillo for BuzzFeed News.

“I’m excited to join Governor Bush’s team,” Benavides told BuzzFeed in an email. “I look forward to communicating Governor Bush’s conservative ideas for greater economic growth and opportunity for all Americans.”

Fluent in Spanish and married to a woman of Mexican-American lineage, Bush believes he can make headway in the traditionally Democratic support from Latinos. Benavides would help deliver the former Florida governor’s message -– both language and culture.

The new hire comes one day after a minor misstep, where The New York Times reported Bush listed himself as “Hispanic” in a 2009 voter-registration form.

An Ohio native, Benavides previously served as communication director in the re-election effort for Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder. She also had roles with the Mitt Romney 2012 campaign as national Hispanic and Florida press secretary.

Benavides also worked on the Republican National Convention and the Hispanic Leadership Network teams.

Bush is adding “serious talent, seasoned folks” who can work in both English and Spanish, former RNC Hispanic media director Izzy Santa told BuzzFeed.

“Her role for Snyder was just communications director,” Santa added. “It’s important to know both worlds because being Hispanic doesn’t mean you speak Spanish only. It means you can resonate with both markets in the community.”

Bettina Inclan, former deputy coalition director for Romney’s 2012 Latino outreach, has worked with Benavides. She praised her experience, saying it will be a valuable asset in Florida and Nevada, states with large Hispanic populations.

“It’s reflective of Jeb looking at the big picture and wanting to build a team early on that can take him through the primary,” Inclan said.

Benavides’ time on the Hispanic Leadership Network, where Bush was an advisory board member, included projects engaging Latinos on center-right issues and advocating an overhaul of the nation’s immigration policy.

“Smart immigration reform will help our economy,” she wrote in an op-ed for NBC Latino. “Conservative economists believe that reform would significantly reduce the deficit and grow the economy.”

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for Patch.com, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at phil@floridapolitics.com and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.

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