Ana Navarro-Cárdenas was born in Nicaragua, and came to the United States with her mother and three siblings in 1980 to escape the country’s communist regime. Her father stayed behind to fight with the anticommunist rebel force known as the contras.
Navarro-Cárdenas grew up in Miami, where she still lives. As a girl, Navarro-Cárdenas was inspired by then President Ronald Reagan’s fight against communism and his support of her father’s cause, which helped cement her status as a lifelong Republican. Navarro-Cárdenas graduated with a double major in Latin American studies and political science from the University of Miami. She received a JD from the St. Thomas University School of Law in Miami Gardens, Florida, and as a law student worked to help secure the right of Nicaraguan refugees to stay in the United States. She is also is a former fellow at the Institute of Politics at the Harvard Kennedy School.
Rising quickly to become a leading political consultant in the Republican Party, Navarro-Cárdenas was an influential figure in shaping its outreach efforts in the fast-growing and increasingly politically important Hispanic community. She served on Florida Governor Jeb Bush’s transition team in 1998, and was his first director of immigration policy in the Executive Office of the Governor. She was the national cochair of Senator John McCain’s Hispanic Advisory Council, and a national surrogate for McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign. She was also a national Hispanic cochair for former Governor of Utah Jon Huntsman’s 2012 presidential campaign. After initially supporting Jeb Bush in the 2016 Republican presidential primary, Navarro-Cárdenas gained nationwide attention when she broke party ranks to vote for Democrat Hillary Clinton in the general election. Navarro-Cárdenas has also been one of the most vocal and high-profile Republican critics of many of President Donald Trump’s policies, including immigration.
Known for her wit and quick comebacks that go viral, Navarro-Cárdenas is a sought-out political commentator. Free of the restraints that come with being on a political campaign or acting as a surrogate, Navarro-Cárdenas is at last “unplugged, unchained, unmuzzled,” as she has put it. She is a political analyst for CNN, CNN en Español, and the U.S.-based Spanish-language broadcaster Telemundo. She is also a political contributor on ABC’s Emmy-winning talk show The View and a guest cohost of the show.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Navarro-Cárdenas has called attention to the vital work of immigrants as frontline responders and essential workers. She is very active on Twitter, where she engages in spirited political debates and often highlights immigrants’ contributions to American society, including delicious Cuban pastries: “I am an immigrant. And I am a proud American. As American as apple pie … or a pastelito de guayaba. #IAmAnImmigrant.”