Meet 47-year-old Gabriela Wyatt.
She's an Aurora mother, a wife, and dyed-in-the-wool Republican cheerleader, from the top of her head down to her feet - literally.
"You know, I have some shoes, actually that have a Republican logo," she said. "Yes! I designed my own tennis shoes!"
She was elected to be a Mitt Romney delegate in the March primary.
So she’s taking off time from her job as a quality manager at Motorola to head to Florida, with 68 other Illinois Republicans delegates.
Even though this is now her second convention, Wyatt says she wasn’t involved in politics at all when she first came to the U.S. from Mexico in 1992. But later she started knocking on doors in Aurora for her husband’s mayoral campaign, trying to turn out Hispanic voters.
"They were all great and excited. … until they asked me if he was a Republican or a Democrat," she recalls. "So when I say, ‘Oh, we’re Republican,’ all of the sudden like a wall came [up], like 'Okay, I don’t want to talk to you,' or their attitude changed."
Since then, Wyatt has been trying to convince Hispanics the GOP tent is big enough for them, too. She's now the Co-Chair of the Illinois Republican Party, and has held several other GOP posts in Kane County and statewide.
She concedes many Hispanics she talks to are worried about what they see as Republicans’ hard-line against illegal immigration. But she says President Obama had his chance to overhaul the immigration system, but instead, burned his political fuel during the health care fight.
"He promised the world to Hispanics when he got elected, and he has done nothing. I mean, zero!"
She says immigration is important to Hispanic voters, though not as much as jobs and the economy. Several recent polls show, among Hispanics, immigration has taken a back seat to other issues, such as education and fixing the economy.
But for Wyatt, it seems to be as much about the process as policies.
She starts to tear up when I ask her why it’s so important that she goes to the Republican convention.
"We’ve got people dying across the world, just for, um - [to] keep democracies," Wyatt said. "And we just stay home?"
Gabriela Wyatt says her larger goal is simply to get Hispanics to vote this November, whether for a Republican or a Democrat.
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