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Who was U.S.'s first Hispanic presidential candidate?

Ben Fernandez first ran for Oval Office in 1980

All it took was one piece of commentary by someone to convince Ben Fernandez that he should join the Republican Party.

While a student at Redlands University in California, Fernandez said he was told by an individual that the Republican Party was the party of rich people.

To that, Fernandez had a reply.

“Sign me up,” Fernandez said, according to People Pill. “I’ve had enough of poverty.”

Born in Kansas to Mexican parents, Fernandez certainly didn’t finish his life in poverty. 

He ended up serving in World War II, started a business career, and ultimately became the answer to an important trivia question.

Fernandez was the first person of Hispanic origin to run for president in a major party. 

He did so in 1980, winning three delegates at the Republican National Convention.

Fernandez mounted smaller-scale campaigns in 1984 and 1988, but the presence of Ronald Reagan in 1984 and George Bush in 1988 as the main Republican candidates made gaining much traction in those campaigns unrealistic.

Fernandez served as an ambassador to Paraguay under President Richard Nixon, and as a member of the Executive Council of the Republican National Committee in 1976.

Before his death in 2000, he worked on the finance committee for Sen. John McCain’s presidential campaign.


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