A Republican strategist respected on both sides of the aisle for her straight talk and wit, Ana Navarro was the perfect guest to round out MoFo’s three-part “Power, Politics, & Perspective” speaker series. The focus of the series was on how our personal identities can affect our cultural perspectives and political views, and Ana had a lot to say about her own experiences and mindset.
Ana was born in Nicaragua and fled to the United States as a child with her family in 1980 to avoid communism and political turmoil. They settled in Miami, Florida, a state whose politicians at the time had a significant impact on Ana.
“I think because I settled in Florida, where there were [Republican] leaders like [former Governor] Jeb Bush—like [former U.S. Representative] Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and [former U.S. Senator] Mel Martínez—the Republican Party seemed very inclusive to me at the time. I thought, the Republican Party represented our interests the best,” Ana told Arturo J. González, a Litigation partner at Morrison & Foerster in San Francisco. “If I had settled somewhere in California under [Republican former Governor] Pete Wilson, I probably wouldn’t be a Republican,” she said.
The fact that she was eight-years-old when her family immigrated to the United States has also shaped her views on immigration, Ana told Arturo.
“I constantly think of the Dream Act kids and young adults,” she said. “In my view, an eight year-old or a nine-year-old should not be penalized for decisions that were not their own.” When Arturo asked why she, a Republican, decided not to support President Trump, Ana stated, “For me, before being a Republican, I was a woman, I was a Latina, I was an immigrant, and I was an American. And those things mattered more than the partisan label.” She also referenced his divisive rhetoric, in general, and the incident where he appeared to mock a disabled journalist.
Going from Lawyer to Television Personality
A lawyer by training, Ana admitted that it was never part of her original plan to be on television. “When John McCain ran [for president] in 2008, I was his National Hispanic Chair. And I was his media surrogate on Spanish and English media. And when he lost, people kept calling me to be on TV. And then I asked to be paid,” stated Ana.
The 2016 elections were a pivotal point in her career because, for the first time in her adult life, she wasn’t supporting anyone. She recalled that, “When I went on television then, it wasn’t RNC talking points, it was actually me reacting. And I think that authenticity came through and it’s what people found they could connect with.”
Red States Turning Blue
When asked whether she felt that Trump’s criticism of the late Senator John McCain cost him Arizona, she responded, “Absolutely. I think John McCain did very well with a number of groups there and I think he was loved by voters in Arizona. It’s a reminder that things don’t remain stagnant. Here was a solid-red state and they flipped a Senate seat and it helped to elect Joe Biden to the Presidency.”
Arturo also asked Ana if she sees Texas becoming a swing state in the future. “It goes back to the fact that nothing is stagnant. One part of me thinks it’s as possible as sparkly unicorns. They need good candidates, right? Candidates who can wage vigorous, vibrant campaigns. If one of the Castro boys can be convinced to run there statewide, if the demographics keep changing…. The thing with Texas is that it’s so large and it’s microcosms. Houston and Austin are so different from the Rio Grande Valley. So when you talk about Texas, you’re talking about such a large, diverse state.”
What Will the Future Look Like Under Biden?
When asked if she thinks that Biden has the power to turn things around, Ana responded that “He’s been in the Senate for 30+ years before becoming vice president; he’s an institutionalist. He’s worked across the aisle his whole life.” She mentioned that some Republicans in the Senate, like Mitt Romney and Lisa Murkowski, seem to be willing to work with Biden, which makes her hopeful. “Even if the Democrats lose the Senate by one or two votes, there are going to be Republicans willing to cross the party aisle and work with Biden. But the difference between running the committees and setting the agenda is huge,” Ana noted.
Ana also shared how she feels now that the election is over: “I feel liberated now. The last few years have been hard for me. I think I underestimated how dark and difficult these years were. I told my husband I feel like a hostage must feel when she’s been rescued by the SWAT team.”
See more of Arturo and Ana’s conversation in the video clips below:
WHY TRUMP’S CAMPAIGN RESONATED WITH SO MANY VOTERS, INCLUDING THOSE IN THE LATINX COMMUNITY:
KAMALA HARRIS AND THE SIGNIFICANCE OF HER CANDIDACY:
THOUGHTS ON THE CALL TO “DEFUND THE POLICE”: