Former FIU President Modesto Maidique Hosts Trump Fundraiser, Says He's Misunderstood

Modesto “Mitch” Maidique is so convinced there’s a divide between what Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump says and what he truly believes that Maidique says he’s “almost at the point of making a Trump dictionary.”

“Trump says we have to build a wall because all of these people, some of whom are undesirable, are coming in and we need to stop them,” he says. “That translates to, a nation must control its borders.”

The former Florida International University president made history as the first Hispanic appointed to head a state university in Florida. Now a president emeritus of the school, Maidique is one of the best-known Cuban-American leaders in Miami.

He’s also one of the most prominent local Hispanics to come out in support of Trump, who has struggled to win over Hispanic voters. Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado and Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez, both Cuban-American Republicans, have said they won’t support the presidential candidate.

Maidique, however, has signed on to raise money for Trump and is one of the hosts of a fundraising reception and dinner for the candidate held last night in South Florida. Immigrant-rights group United Families protested outside the dinner.

This isn't the first time Maidique, a registered Republican, has been vocal about his political views. He raised eyebrows by endorsing then-presidential nominee George W. Bush during a summer 2000 campaign event at FIU.
This election cycle, he first supported Jeb Bush, whom Maidique called “a good friend and a terrific governor” before being courted by the Trump campaign.

He decided to join the effort, believing American government needs a bit of a shakeup.

“Thomas Jefferson once said that a little revolution now and then is a good thing,” Maidique says. He adds that research shows “people who come from outside the system either fail colossally or they succeed in a spectacular way.”

Maidique admits he can see why Trump is “accused of many things” but says what the presidential candidate is quoted as saying — and how it’s interpreted — is not necessarily what he really thinks.

After spending time with the candidate several weeks ago at Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s Palm Beach resort, Maidique says the magnate is quite different in person than he appears.

“The first thing the man does is he walks over to me. He says, ‘I’m very grateful that you are with us. You have a great reputation. It means a lot to me,’” Maidique says. “Does that sound like Trump? No, that doesn’t sound like the Trump you think you know.”
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Brittany Shammas is a former staff writer at Miami New Times. She covered education in Naples before taking a job at the South Florida Sun Sentinel. She joined New Times in 2016.
Contact: Brittany Shammas