Archive for June, 2008

McCain’s recent comments on immigrations suggest that he is trying to please voters on both sides of the issue….

It was the issue of immigration, after all, that almost sunk McCain’s candidacy back in the summer of 2007, when the Senate debated and defeated a comprehensive immigration bill that was dubbed the McCain-Kennedy bill and derided as an “amnesty bill” by opponents. After the defeat, McCain’s public rhetoric on the issue changed significantly, even as his actual position only altered slightly. “I got the message,” he told Republican crowds hundreds of times in the early voting states. “We will secure the borders first.”

But in public comments, McCain often delivered a somewhat mixed message of his own. He continued to favor all the parts of his comprehensive plan — border security, increased employer sanctions for illegal hiring and a path to citizenship for the undocumented — but he mostly refrained from using the word “comprehensive.” Instead, he spoke of a two-stage solution. First, he would secure the borders, a process that would be certified by border state governors. Then he would push for a process to allow the 12 million undocumented immigrants to become full citizens.

More recently, however, McCain has switched back to his earlier rhetoric on the issue. In late May, he took time at an event in California to point out that he had worked with Sen. Ted Kennedy on the immigration bill. “We must enact comprehensive immigration reform, and we must make it a top agenda item,” he said. A couple of weeks later, McCain released the first ads of his general election campaign — for Spanish-language radio in Nevada and New Mexico. This week, he plans to travel to Colombia and Mexico, to burnish his credentials as a leader who understands Latin America. Next month, he will address La Raza at its annual conference in San Diego, along with Democrat Barack Obama.

The reason is not hard to fathom. McCain’s campaign has already announced that it expects to do well among Hispanic voters, especially in key states like New Mexico, Colorado and Nevada. (President Bush won about 40% of the Hispanic vote in 2004, though most public polls now show McCain getting just under 30% of the same group, compared with 60% for Obama.) McCain aides openly talk about how the immigration issue that was a burden for their candidate in the primary could become an asset in the general election.

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Latino Stars come out for Barack Obama….

The last time he appeared on the front of the popular culture bible was in March, when it gave him its backing for president, saying he had “emerged by displaying precisely the kind of character and judgment we need in a president: renouncing the politics of fear, speaking frankly on the most pressing issues facing the country and sticking to his principles”.
Meanwhile, a handful of Latino musicians, actors and celebrities are urging their fans to support Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Barack Obama. The Latino celebrities are becoming involved in the 2008 White House race to an unprecedented degree this year. The Pew Hispanic Center reports 18.2 million Latinos are eligible to vote.
The celebrities are able to reach easily the 7.3 million Hispanics under 35, the newspaper said.
Latino superstars such as Juanes, the Colombian rocker, and Los Tigres del Norte from Mexico are urging fans at their concerts to register to vote, while Dominican merengue legend Juan Luis Guerra and Mexican rockers Mana played a benefit concert in Miami in March to benefit a national campaign to increase citizenship and voter registration among Hispanics.

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Newsweek claims that Barack Obama seems to hold an insurmountable lead over John McCain and that perhaps Hillary Clinton supporters will indeed flock to Barack Obama come November….

One of the most persistent myths of the interminable Democratic primary clash was that Hispanic voters didn’t like Barack Obama. (The oft-cited but largely inaccurate reason: his race.) Yes, Latinos preferred Hillary Clinton to Obama; her longstanding ties to the community (and her husband’s popularity) typically gave her a two-to-one edge over the Illinois upstart. But pundits too often predicted–illogically–that this outpouring of Latino support for Clinton in the primaries would translate into lack of support for Barack Obama in the general election. They’ve been proven wrong

Of course, Election Day is still four months away. John McCain has long history of appealing to Hispanics. He won 54% of the Hispanic vote in the Florida primary, for example, and often boasts that 70 percent of Hispanics supported him in the 2004 Arizona Senate race. Most importantly, he famously broke with the GOP to cosponsor comprehensive immigration reform in early 2007. But the problem for McCain is that he’s spent the year or so since his bill failed trying to reassure the right wing that he’s not “soft” on immigration, and will find it difficult in the coming months to reach out to Hispanics on the issue without offending the Republican base. (He’s already in hot water for secretly meeting with Latino leaders in Chicago last week.)

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Hillary Rodham Clinton began campaigning in earnest for her former rival Thursday, urging some of her most passionate supporters to back Barack Obama and then introducing him to some of her key fundraisers.

“It is so important that we rally together,” Clinton said at a luncheon address to the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO). The group is officially non-partisan, but many of its members were staunch Clinton supporters in the Democratic presidential contest.

In her first major public speech since conceding the nomination contest to Obama, Clinton praised him for “his grit and his grace.”

She urged her Hispanic supporters to transfer their allegiance to him. “We all have to be united behind the values and ideals we believe in,” she said. “I believe firmly the best way to continue this fight is to elect Barack Obama.

The New York senator remains a powerful draw with Latino voters. She got a standing ovation at the NALEO conference, where the group’s president, Adolfo Carrion introduced her as “nuestra hermana” – “our sister.”

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Presidential candidates John McCain and Barack Obama plan back-to-back appearances Saturday before the annual meeting of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials. The non-partisan group represents more than 5,500 officeholders and the fastest-growing voting bloc in the nation.

In a report issued Thursday, the group, known as NALEO, predicted a record-breaking turnout of at least 9.2 million Hispanic voters this fall. They could be key to winning swing states such as New Mexico, Florida and Colorado.

Both candidates have strong selling points for Hispanic voters, but neither has closed the deal, backers say. Traditionally Democratic, Hispanic voters helped give George W. Bush the presidency in 2000, when exit polls showed Bush won 35 percent of their votes. In 2004, he improved that number to 40 percent.

This year, the Hispanic vote is “very much up for grabs,” said Sen. Mel Martinez, R-Fla., who supports McCain.Patricia Lopez, a Democratic member of the Phoenix school board, said she will probably vote for Obama. But, she said, “it’s really hard” because of the loyalty she feels toward Clinton. “She was my hero,” Lopez said.
Delia Garcia, a Democratic state representative from Kansas who had supported Clinton, said she has switched allegiances to Obama. She said most Hispanic Democrats will follow suit if Obama makes more of an effort to reach out to Latino voters and make Latinos “part of his top staff.”
Obama recently hired Patty Solis Doyle, a longtime Clinton aide who is the daughter of Mexican immigrants. Doyle, who left her post as Clinton’s campaign manager after a staff shake-up in February, is to serve as chief of staff to Obama’s vice presidential nominee.

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McCain’s California Latino Chairman Mario Rodriquez of San Clemente says he knows his candidate has to appeal to Hispanics one-on-one and that the candidate has to get beyond the intense anti-immigrant rhetoric that he concedes some in the GOP have engaged in. And Norma Garcia Guillen, a Santa Ana lawyer who is president of the Hispanic Bar Association, believes once Latinos learn about Barack Obama’s support for driver’s licenses for all regardless of their immigration status and that he’s supported making it easier for children of illegal immigrants to get a college education that they’ll be in his corner.

Both camps say they are ramping up their efforts to win the Latino vote with more Hispanic staff, Spanish-language ads and Web sites.But why? For years, political experts have talked about the promise of the Latino vote. So far low Hispanic turnout has belied those predictions. But this year, experts insist, the Latino vote could make a difference, especially in some key Western and Southwestern states that up to now haven’t been considered battlegrounds. McCain was the first to launch a Web site in Spanish and frequently points to the Hispanic support he has received over the years in Arizona. There’s a bug on Obama’s Web site that takes people to a Spanish language page and he spoke Spanish on a campaign ad for the Puerto Rico primary. They have both brought on more Hispanic staff and people who will coordinate the message to Latino communities. Obama will do well among the young Latino voter and I think McCain has a good reputation among Latino voters, especially in the Southwest,” says Lorraine Quintanar, a John Kerry delegate to the 2004 Democratic National Convention who now publishes an online magazine geared to Hispanic women. TheLatinavoice.com endorsed Clinton and McCain in the primaries.

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Orange County Register

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There are dramatic signs that the fabled “sleeping giant” of the American electorate, the Latino vote, has awoken for the 2008 presidential race – putting Republican John McCain and Democrat Barack Obama in heated competition for what could be a game-changing prize. And the candidates’ reaction to that awakening explains this week’s flurry of activity: Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., will address the nation’s largest association of Latino officials today in Washington, D.C., the day before her much-ballyhooed joint appearance with Obama in New Hampshire. Both the candidates plan to cross paths before the same group, the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials, this weekend.

In California next month, their head-to-head competition is expected to continue: Bothcandidates have been invited to appear before the National Council of La Raza at its national convention in San Diego. McCain has even invited Obama to hold a “town hall” debate before the influential Latino advocacy group – Obama hasn’t yet accepted.With just weeks until the major party nominating conventions, both McCain and Obama have their eyes on the support of Latinos, America’s largest minority group with about 9 percent of the national electorate – that’s up from 5.5 percent in the 2000 election – according to the Pew Hispanic Center.

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San Francisco Gate

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