Sergio Arellano of Phoenix, Ariz., said he had a story he liked to tell about the moment he registered as a Republican. When he was an 18-year-old Army infantryman on home leave, he went to a July 4 event and spotted the voter registration table. He asked the woman sitting there: What’s the difference between Republicans and Democrats?
Democrats, he recalled her saying, are for the poor. Republicans are for the rich.
“Well that made it easy — I didn’t want to be poor, I wanted to be rich, so I chose Republican,” Mr. Arellano said. “Obviously she figured I would identify with the poor. There’s an assumption that you’re starting out in this country, you don’t have any money, you will identify with the poor. But what I wanted was to make my own money.”
Last fall, Mr. Arellano campaigned for Mr. Trump in Arizona, and this year, he narrowly lost his bid for chairman of the state Republican Party. Still, he does not fit the Trumpian conservative mold, often urging politicians to soften their political rhetoric against immigrants.
“Trump is not the party, the party is what we make it — a pro-business, pro-family values,” he said. “People who understand we want to make it as something here.”
All of this sounds familiar to Mike Madrid, a Republican strategist who is deeply critical of the party under Mr. Trump, and who has worked for decades to push the party to do more to attract Hispanic voters.
“Paying rent is more important than fighting social injustice in their minds,” Mr. Madrid said. “The Democratic Party has always been proud to be a working-class party, but they do not have a working-class message. The central question is going to be, Who can convince these voters their concerns are being heard?”