CNN Republican strategist Ana Navarro has found herself the unlikely breakout star of the 2016 election (along with Ken Bone and Melania Trump’s pussy bow blouse, of course) – and she’s using her sudden, viral Internet fame to push for a more inclusive vision of American politics.
Navarro, 44, made a name for herself over the past few months with harsh and hilarious criticism of her own party’s presidential nominee. With Donald Trump zingers like, “this swamp thing” and “orange man with an unidentifiable furry object on his head ranting into the wind,” the political pundit has garnered fierce admiration for her raw commentary.
“These thing just come out of my mouth,” Navarro, a Miami, Florida, resident tells PEOPLE. “People ask me if I have comedy writers and I’m like are you kidding me?”
“I don’t know how people can possibly survive this election without a sense of humor and a good liquor store.”
Navarro also gained thousands and thousands of Twitter followers after a particularly heated (and entertaining) appearance on CNN with Anderson Cooper and staunch Trump supporter, Scottie Nell Hughes.
“Sex unfortunately sells,” Nell Hughes said, of the influence books like 50 Shades of Grey have had on American culture and politics in the October 10 CNN segment.
“Everything you just said is 50 shades of crazy!” quipped Navarro. “To compare running for president to an erotic film is crazy.”
She added, “If [Trump] wants to be held to that standard, great, go write the art of the groping!”
Naturally, the Internet went crazy – and Navarro was both lauded and criticized for her remarks.
But the blunt strategist is no newbie to speaking her mind. Born in Nicaragua to a father who was a freedom fighter for the anticommunist Contras movement (supported by Ronald Reagan in the 1979 Revolution), she says she was a Republican for as long as she could remember.
“Given my childhood, I was always involved in politics. It ran in my blood,” she says. “I’m not the kind of person that sits around kind of envisioning things. I just do.”
Navarro, a Republican to the core, has worked with a number of big Republican names (Jeb Bush, John McCain, Jon Huntsman Jr.), advising on issues like immigration—and was a supporter of Jeb Bush in the GOP primary. But the moment Trump “called Mexicans rapists” she says he lost her vote.
“I’m not even Mexican, I wasn’t born in Mexico. But I knew when he said Mexicans, he meant everyone south of the border,” she says. “So I’ve been calling a spade a spade—no let me rephrase—I have been calling a bigot a bigot since the start, and now people are starting to pay attention.”
Navarro hopes to use her newfound popularity to promote commonsense immigration reform, and to “get rid of discrimination against any Americans based on gender, sexuality, creed or color.”
“When the dust settles from the election, I’d love to get that in motion,” she says. “It’s become easy for Americans to live in a cocoon of monolithic ideology and thought. It’s time to embrace diversity of thought and diversity of experience.”
She adds, “And unless I move to a desert island with poor reception, I’ll never stop speaking out!”