On the Washington airwaves, Tito Muñoz fine-tunes a conservative Latino voice
Saturday, July 17, 2010
When last we heard from Tito Muñoz, he was onstage with Sarah Palin at a rally in Leesburg in the waning days of the 2008 presidential campaign, a burly guy in a yellow hard hat, trying to bellow some life into the GOP ticket.
"Good morning, Virginia!" he boomed. "You can call me Tito the Builder!"
Palin worked him into her stump speeches, this Latino Joe the Plumber who, she liked to say, "was born in Colombia but made in the U.S.A.!"
On a recent Saturday morning, Muñoz has exchanged his boots and tool belt for a pressed shirt and slacks. He squeezes behind a microphone in a small radio studio in Laurel. He clears space on the table for a pile of books and essays, including "The Constitutional Thoughts of Thomas Jefferson," "César Chávez Against Illegals," "Hispanics in American Wars" and Spanish translations of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.
It's minutes to airtime for his debut as Tito the Radio Host. He's a little frantic.
"Can I have the questions, Mama?" he says to Deborah, his wife. "Where are my glasses?"
They are on his head.
He orders the engineer to cue up his theme song, "America," by the late Nino Bravo, with the chorus, in Spanish: "When God made Eden he thought of America."
The engineer counts down, the on-air light pops on, and Muñoz unleashes a verbal torrent, in Spanish.
"Bienvenidos a 'America Eres Tu,' " he says, welcome to "America Is You." "We Latinos are the largest minority in the United States. We must take our place in history and preserve the vision of the Founding Fathers of this nation."
Los Padres de la Patria! His tone deepens with emotion.
"It's our duty and our responsibility. Because we are America . . . "