DISCOVERY BAY — While most Latinos saw trouble in Donald Trump’s candidacy, Marco Gutierrez saw opportunity. And he also saw a different kind of danger for America if the billionaire wasn’t elected president: unchecked illegal immigration — which he colorfully described on national TV as “taco trucks on every corner.”
On Friday, the outspoken Discovery Bay real estate broker-turned-cable-talk-show-Trump-surrogate found himself the target of ridicule on social media, as mouthwatering internet jokesters and politicos pounced.
Congressman Eric Swalwell tweeted an image of tacos all across his East Bay congressional district with the caption: “Can’t speak for the rest of America, but here in the Bay Area we want #TacoTrucksOnEveryCorner.”
The group States United to Prevent Gun Violence tweeted: “We’d much rather have #TacoTrucksOnEveryCorner than a gun store on every corner.”
It all started Thursday night during an interview with MSNBC’s Joy Reid.
“My culture is a very dominant culture — and it’s imposing, and it’s causing problems,” said Gutierrez, co-founder of Latinos for Trump, defending the candidate’s hard line on illegal immigration. “If you don’t do something about it, you’re going to have taco trucks on every corner.”
When a puzzled Reid asked the 42-year-old Gutierrez to clarify, he responded: “We are a culture that — we have a lot of good things that we bring to the United States, but we also have problems.”
Reached by phone Friday, Gutierrez acknowledged using “a poor choice of words to talk about lawlessness,” but he also blamed the folks at left-of-center MSNBC.
“They didn’t let me finish,” he said.
In an email to this newspaper, Gutierrez, who emigrated from Mexico at age 17, criticized the “arrogance and false pride” of many of his fellow Mexican immigrants.
“I have noticed that the Mexico that most powerful figures in our community defend is a Mexico that does not exist,” he wrote. “They use our Mexican heritage to enrich themselves and inject fear and anger in our community against the America that gave us so much.”
Bay Area Latinos savored the taco truck remarks with a mix of bemusement and scorn.
“I laughed about it,” said Belinda Montes de Oca. “There already are taco trucks on almost every street corner, especially here on the East Side of San Jose.
Aaron Resendez, a business consultant from San Jose, compared Gutierrez to “a barking dog,” just trying to draw attention to himself. “We’re not dominant, and we’re not causing problems,” he said. “We are just trying to make a better life for our families.”
Perhaps Gutierrez’s bungling TV performance shouldn’t have been the only red flag to the Trump campaign that he was less than an ideal surrogate.
The California Department of Real Estate revoked Gutierrez’ broker’s license in 2012 after accusing him of making two unauthorized charges to a client’s bank account — one to pay $800.36 to Sprint and the other to pay $821.57 to Comcast.
Under a settlement with state regulators, Gutierrez was allowed to get a restricted seller’s license, but he surrendered that in 2014 after being alerted that he was once again being investigated for real estate law violations.
Gutierrez, who has six children, did not directly address the sanctions, but said in the email to this newspaper that he had struggled financially during the Great Recession and also battled alcoholism.
That Gutierrez could wind up in front of millions of television viewers making the case for Trump shows that the GOP nominee’s campaign and television networks aren’t properly vetting people, said Barbara O’Connor, director emeritus of the Institute for the Study of Politics and the Media at Sacramento State.
Gutierrez, who said he planned to take a two-day media hiatus, has not been shy about defending conservatives critical of Latinos. After right-wing firebrand Ann Coulter warned the California delegation to the Republican National Convention that because of immigration “the country is slipping away from us so fast,” Gutierrez, who was there as a delegation guest, told this newspaper that she was spot on.
“It’s like going to a therapist and talking about your family issues,” he said after listening to Coulter speak. “Why am I going to be offended if it’s a real thing? I think we have issues in our Hispanic culture that need to be dealt with.”
Contact Matthew Artz at 510-208-6435. Follow him on Twitter at Matthew_Artz.