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Archive for August, 2008

Results of a focus group performed in Denver this week show that at least in this state,Hispanics are favoring Obama and feel that he is more relatable than John McCain….

If Barack Obama is really going to redraw the political map this year, this isn’t a bad place to start. Colorado’s nine electoral votes have gone blue in only one of the last 10 elections, but they look within Obama’s reach now according to recent polling. The same goes for nearby Nevada (with five votes) and New Mexico (also five). If John McCain weren’t from Arizona, its 10 votes might be up for grabs, too. Latino voters are a big reason that Democrats may find new electoral power in the West. In all the Southwestern states Obama is targeting, Latinos make up at least 12 percent of the eligible voters; in New Mexico, the Hispanic vote is a staggering 37 percent of the electorate. (Latinos are now the largest and fastest-growing minority group in the country, making up an estimated 15 percent of the U.S. population, though only about 9 percent of the electorate.)

No wonder the Democratic convention kicked off Monday with an invocation by Polly Baca, a former Colorado state senator and an activist on behalf of Latinos, then jumped to remarks by the Congressional Hispanic Caucus leaders, before delegates headed off to (among other parties) a massive gala sponsored by all the major Latino civil rights groups later in the evening.

In a focus group here Monday morning for the Annenberg Center for Public Policy, run by Democratic pollster Peter Hart, the nature of that opportunity was on display. Annenberg convened 12 Latino voters from around the Denver area and asked them to speak about the election for two hours. Of the 12, five supported Obama, three supported John McCain, and four were undecided — but two of the undecided voters said they were leaning toward Obama. The issues they said were important to them were the same issues that pollsters are finding matter to most Americans: ending the war in Iraq, turning around the economy, and improving access to affordable healthcare.

But the voters in the focus group — even the McCain supporters — said they weren’t worried at all that Obama would favor one racial group over another. “What I do see with Obama is that from his background — minority, black, blah blah blah, everything — I can relate to that,” said Vaneska Mayor, 33, a chemist from Thornton, Colo., who grew up in Puerto Rico. “Because I’m not rich, and I’m a woman, and I’m a Latina, and my mom forced me to learn English even though I didn’t want to, so I could have a better life.”

Read Full Article: Salon.com

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“We are fighting to take our country back. We are on the same journey now.” Declared the former Democratic Presidential Hopeful..

Just yesterday Hillary Clinton traveled to Fresno, California to thank the United Farm Workers for supporting her campaign for president and ask that they now turn that support toward electing presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama. This morning she made her first appearance at the Democratic National Convention in Denver at the Democratic Hispanic caucus meeting where she urged Hispanics at the meeting to work as hard for Obama as they did for her. She was introduced by Senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey who said,”She connected with our community in a way no candidate ever has.” When she took the stage, rhythmic cheers of “Hillary! Hillary!” echoed through the room. This is similar to the welcome she received earlier this summer when she appeared at the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (Naleo) Conference in Washington D.C. She stood in front of supporters, party insiders and members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus who supported her throughout the primary process.

“On any issue that matters to you, we must have a Democratic president to make progress together,” Mrs. Clinton declared. “I know with all my heart that we cannot afford four more years of the same failed policies.” In her most direct appeal, Mrs. Clinton said she wanted to see her backers in the trenches for the presumptive Democratic nominee.” I am asking those of you who supported me, to work as hard for Barack Obama as you worked for me,” she said. “Let us remember what we were fighting for. We were not just fighting to elect a particular person president. We are fighting to take our country back.We are on the same journey now.”

This call for unity comes on the heels of an ad released by John McCain hours after Barack Obama announced that Joe Biden would be his running mate in which he claims that Barack Obama did not choose Hillary Clinton as his running mate because of certain statements that she made during the primary process. This ad aimed to fuel any sentiments of resentment that might exist among supporters of Hillary who possibly still had hopes that Hillary Clinton would be selected for the Democratic ticket. In regards to the ad Hillary Clinton declared, “I’m Hillary Clinton and I do not approve that message.” A statement which drew larger cheers from the crowd. This is the first of several scheduled appearances for Hillary Clinton at the DNCC Convention.

New York Sun

Hillary in Fresno

See the ad

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On the eve of the announcement of Barack Obama’s running mate, many hope that the Democratic Presidential candidate will choose someone who will bring extensive foreign policy experience and knowledge. This would serve to appease those who (people are who, things are that) believe that the Senator himself does meet those qualifications. In recent weeks, he visited several European countries and Middle Eastern countries in an effort to silence his critics and to demonstrate he does have the qualifications to meet with foreign dignitaries

Barack Obama met with the Israeli prime minister which is sure to be a strategic move to increase his popularity among Jewish voters which for the most part supported Hillary Clinton during the primaries. In the same fashion some wonder if Senator Obama will soon visit the homeland of some of the members of another important voting bloc, Latinos.

John McCain has recently visited Colombia and Mexico while Senator Obama has yet to set foot on Latin American soil. Many argue that this could prove disadvantageous to Senator Obama since it could send a signal to Latino voters that he is not genuinely interested in strengthening relations with Latin America.

According to a recent column that appeared in the Los Angeles based Spanish language newspaper, La Opinion, Obama needs to begin now if he is to strengthen his relationship with Latin American leaders. It states that he cannot afford to ignore the roots of the more than 40 million Latinos living in the United States. It goes on to say that any relationship-building he can achieve with Latin American presidents will enhance his image within the growing Latino electorate, where his support is strong but not invulnerable to erosion.”

This poses a very interesting question, are all Latinos interested in the next President’s relationship with Latin America? How strong are the ties of the 40 million US Latinos to their countries of ancestry? For those who have been born and raised in the United States for one or more generations, the ties to the home country of their grandparents or great-parents may not be as strong. But to those who are first generation or recently naturalized citizens who lived a large part of their lives in Latin America this could indeed be an issue of vital importance. At the same time, foreign policy issues pertinent to Latin America are of value to Latinos since certain issues like immigration cannot be properly addressed without the involvement of our foreign allies. However, this also means that we must assume that all Latinos are interested in the immigration issues.

Perhaps our foreign policy towards Latin American and immigration issues are important to Latinos as a group; the question is whether they take precedence over other urgent issues, such as the economy. When you consider Americans are facing economic hardships and US Latinos have been disproportionately affected by high unemployment rates, perhaps the most urgent matter should not be which of the candidates visited Latin America during the campaign season. Other issues like the war in Iraq also rank high on the list of concerns for Latinos. Today, John Trasvina Chairman of the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda declared that Latinos “are overrepresented in the military; many are immigrants who are fighting for our country before it becomes their country.” This in turn could mean disproportionately high numbers of casualties for the Latino community, with such staggering information it seems questionable to choose a candidate based solely on his number of visits to Latin America. In fact, the most recent polls by the Pew Hispanic Center revealed that education, the cost of living, jobs and health care were ranked the most pressing issues by Latino voters nationwide.

One of the main challenges for those courting the Latino vote is the fact that Latinos are not a homogenous group. The messaging that is needed to attract the Latino youth vote is not necessarily the same one that would be used to attract the vote of older Latinos. The needs and worries of first generation Latinos are not necessarily the same one of younger Latinos or those whose families emigrated long ago. Candidates need to keep this in mind when wooing Latinos. Perhaps this is something Hillary Clinton’s campaign understood very well, and it could indeed explain the overwhelming success she had with Latinos of all ages and backgrounds. Proof of this is that Hillary Clinton won the Latino vote on Super Tuesday by a 2-to-1 margin in key states such as New York, California and New Jersey. Let’s hope that the litmus test for choosing a president that is in tune to the needs of Latinos involves more than his number of his visits to Latin America.

New American Media

La Opinion

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By Maria Meier

This past week, three teenagers from a small town in rural Pennsylvania were ordered to stand trial in the beating death of another resident of their town, a 25 year old Mexican immigrant named Luis Ramirez. The accused are all members of the local high school football team and are charged with amongst other things, aggravated assault and ethnic intimidation. The victim, who was with his fiancée at the time of the attack, leaves behind two small children. The very nature of the crime is bad enough, but what has sparked increased attention is the fact that the white youth are from an area recently experiencing an increase in its Hispanic population, and Ramirez was an illegal immigrant.

Suddenly, this case has moved beyond the issue of a man being beaten to death into a larger commentary on the extremely charged and emotional debate over the issue of immigration. Already during the preliminary hearings, protests erupted both in support of both the victim and his family and in support of the defendants.

One AP photo from that day was particularly striking. In it, a local woman is clutching an American passport as she spoke to reporters in support of the youths who allegedly sucker punched Ramirez and then repeatedly kicked him in the head while yelling anti-Mexican epithets.

Presumably, she held the passport to draw attention to Ramirez’s immigration status. It is true that he did not possess such documentation. As a “Have”, this woman wanted to make clear that Luis Ramirez was a “Have Not”.

On the other side of the country there was a much happier story about a woman who is a Have Not. Nelly Rico of Los Angeles does not have a US passport. Like Luis Ramirez, she entered this country illegally. Also like him, she went to work at menial jobs to build a better life for her American born children – six of them – whom she raised as a single parent.

Unfortunately for Nelly, lacking a passport meant that she was unable to travel to the Olympic Games in Beijing to be present this past week when her son, Henry Cejudo, won a gold medal in free style wrestling for the United States. Nelly missed being there in person as Henry, upon winning, tearfully embraced the red white and blue and declared himself to be the realization of the American Dream.

Henry’s poor kid makes good story is the kind that we as a nation like to pride ourselves on. The problem is when a few take it upon themselves to decide who gets a shot at that dream. Taken to an extreme, others may even believe that being a “Have” allows them to justify unjustifiable acts against the Have-Nots.

But Nelly Rico does not feel like a Have Not. According to Henry, she considers herself an American. So, shouldn’t we do so as well?

No legislative action will ever undo deep seated feelings of hate and prejudice. However, stories like Henry, and others that come out of these Olympic Games can help us focus on the good and share in Nelly Rico’s pride of being an American.

Associated Press

Los Angeles Times

Yahoo News

Maria Meier is a principal at the Dewey Square Group’ Latinovations division and has fifteen years of legislative, political and communications experience at the national and local level. Prior to joining DSG Meier was the executive director of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, where she developed and implemented the national strategy for the 21-member organization. During the 2004 presidential campaign, she helped develop Hispanic messaging and policy stances for the Kerry/Edwards Campaign.

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As reported on La Plaza few days ago, the Barack Obama campaign recently announced the formation of a Latino Leadership Council that was to further assist Barack Obama in obtaining the Latino vote this November. Since then, many have speculated as to why certain individuals were selected over others. Many of those listed on the council were former supporters of Hillary Clinton such as Congresswoman Hilda Solis and former HUD Secretary, Henry Cisneros. However, other prominent Latinos are notably absent, including Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and United Farm Workers co-founder Dolores Huerta. Also not listed is New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, who after much courting by both sides endorsed Obama over Clinton.

An Obama spokesman emphasized that Richardson and Villaraigosa are both actively stumping for the Democratic candidate and have top level access within the campaign. “The group of 15 advisers was chosen for its geographic diversity and will serve as a sounding board inside the campaign on how best to address Latino voters,” said spokesman Vince Casillas.

However the San Francisco Chronicle reports that a sense of discontent still appears to linger for some established Latino leaders who were active Clinton backers and who met with Obama in Washington’s Mayflower Hotel, shortly after she conceded in May. David Ayón, a senior research associate at the Center for the Study of Los Angeles at Loyola Marymount University and a close observer of Latino political affairs claims that he spoke with up to 10 major people who attended this meeting and that even up until mid-July they were still unhappy with Latino access and status within the Obama campaign and his outreach.” He concludes that, “the relationship has been riddled with problems.”

In all fairness the polls reveal that this discontent may only exist in the leadership of the Latino community. As reported earlier most polls suggest that Barack Obama has gained the favor of the Latino community and that they are more likely to support him than John McCain. A nationwide survey conducted in July by the Pew Hispanic Center showed Obama leading McCain 66 percent to 23 percent among Hispanic registered voters. The Democratic National Convention which will begin this Sunday may be the perfect place for all Latino Democrats to unite behind their nominee, even if they did not support him from the start.

San Francisco Chronicle

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by: Maria Cardona

Univision Communications Inc., the leading Spanish-language media company in the U.S., has announced its plans to provide the most complete campaign and election coverage in its history through its television, online, mobile and radio platforms. Our hats off to Univision!! Ya era tiempo. For so long, there has been an urgent need for stepped up professional political coverage in Spanish to ensure our growing community receives the necessary information in order to make an informed decision about who our potential leaders are. Now that the presidential election is upon us, There is no better time for Univision to have stepped up to the plate and take on this critical endeavor.

There has always been the need but not necessarily the will from the corporate leadership of any of the networks that cater to Spanish dominant Latinos. The Spanish language networks have always been in need of investing in their Washington DC bureaus and over time some have diminished their assets in our nation’s capital as opposed to making them more robust.

Univision’s decision to finally deliver to the community the political information depth and breadth it deserves is yet one more indication that we may very well have woken up. Let’s hope its for real this time. Read the full article below…

“Univision is committed to delivering comprehensive convention and election coverage through our television, radio, online and mobile platforms,” said Joe Uva, chief executive officer, Univision Communications Inc. “As Hispanic Americans get ready to elect the 44th president of the United States, Univision will be there informing and empowering our viewers so they can make decisions based on the issues of most importance to them, including education, the economy and immigration.”

Having already hosted the first live Spanish-language presidential forums in television history during the primary season, and co-hosting a debate with CNN, Univision will continue to lead the way in providing Hispanic America the most complete and trusted campaign and election night coverage available anywhere.

On the network side, coverage will begin with a special edition of its critically acclaimed Sunday morning talk program, “Al Punto” (To the Point) hosted by network news anchor Jorge Ramos, which will air the Sunday before the start of each National Convention. Rolando Nichols from Univision’s flagship station in Los Angeles – KMEX – and Fernando Pizarro – Washington DC correspondent for the Univision stations – will be providing coverage for the local stations. In addition, special editions of the California, Texas, and Puerto Rico political roundtable programs produced by the Univision Television Group, each called “Voz y Voto” (Voice and Vote), will be produced from the site of each convention.

On Election Day, Univision Network’s coverage will start in the morning on “Despierta America,” and continue with special live news briefs every hour and as events unfold throughout the day, reporting not only on the presidential race, but on key congressional and gubernatorial contests, as well. In local markets, Univision stations will provide in-depth local election coverage during their scheduled newscasts.

Market Watch

Maria Cardona is a principal with the Dewey Square Group’s Latinovations Division. Cardona was formerly Senior Vice President for the New Democrat Network (NDN) and Director of NDN’s Hispanic Project. Prior to NDN, Cardona served as Communications Director for the Democratic National Committee.

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In an email sent today the campaign revealed their newest effort to woo Latino voters and Leadership. The council members include members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus…

Today, the Obama Campaign announced the formation of its National Latino Advisory Council, highlighting the continued growth of support Senator Obama is receiving in the Latino community nationwide. The advisory council is made up of key labor, faith, community leaders, and elected officials from across the country and will serve as an advisory council for the campaign on issues important to the Latino community as well as play an active role reaching out and organizing Latinos in their communities and across the country.

National Latino Advisory Council Members

Federico Peña, Chair, National Hispanic Advisory Council, Former Mayor of Denver and Former Secretary of Transportation, National Obama Campaign Co-Chair

Geoconda Arguello-Kline, President, Nevada Culinary Workers Union

Congressman Xavier Becerra

Adolfo Carrión, Bronx Borough President

Henry Cisneros, Former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development

Bishop Wilfredo De Jesús, Vice President of Social Justice, National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference

Congressman Charlie González

Congressman Raúl Grijalva

Congressman Luis Gutiérrez

Ambassador Luis Lauredo, Former Ambassador to the Organization of American States

Patricia Madrid, Former Attorney General of New Mexico

Eliseo Medina, Executive Vice President, Service Employees International Union

Congresswoman Linda T. Sánchez

Congresswoman Hilda L. Solis

Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez

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