Courting the Latino Vote, Democrats and Republicans Make Their Case
In a crowded Time Warner Cable Arena, applause echoed off the walls of the place where Charlotte’s hometown teams – the Bobcats and the Checkers – play their games.
Thousands of Democrats have come together to back a Commander in Chief they say has done so much for the Latino community. They say it’s time to once again rise up and back him – to help him win this election.
“It’ll be a close election because four years ago, everyone said it was a landslide and we got 53 percent of the vote, so by definition this thing was always going to be close,” said the president's senior campaign adviser, Robert Gibbs, who stopped by the packed arena.
Gibbs said there’s no denying there may be a slim margin of votes that will separate the president and Republican nominee Mitt Romney in November.
The First Lady makes her husband’s case
“And if so many brave men and women could sacrifice their lives for our most fundamental rights, then surely we can do our parts as citizens of this great democracy to exercise those rights. Surely we can get to the polls on a election day and make our voices heard," said the First Lady.
In her prime time speech, the first lady said she knows her husband stands with Americans of every color, and in Charlotte, her message seems to have resonated.
Even as folks inched around the convention floor sandwiched elbow-to-elbow, it seems the messages are coming across loud and clear.
“If farmers and blacksmiths could win an independence from an empire, if immigrants could leave behind everything, if women can be dragged to jail for seeking to vote, if a generation could defeat a depression and define greatness for all time, if a young preacher could lift us to the mountain top with his righteous dream, and if proud Americans can be who they are and boldly stand at the altar with who they love, then surely, surely, we can give everyone in this country a fair chance at that great American dream,” said Michelle Obama.
The Dream, and the Latino voter
Gilberto Hinojosa, the chairman of the Texas Democratic Party, believes their formula gives everyone a chance to prosper in the United States.
“It’s a land of opportunity that we’re given an opportunity to succeed," said Hinojosa, "and then we take that opportunity and we actually succeed, then it’s our responsibility to look back and bring our brothers and sisters with us and help them as well.”
It was no accident that San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro was invited to share his American story as the first Hispanic to deliver the keynote speech at a Democratic National Convention.
Castro’s late grandmother emigrated to the U.S. from Mexico almost 100 years ago, and he said he's inspired by how times have changed with President Obama’s executive order.
“And because he knows that we don't have an ounce of talent to waste," said Castro, "the president took action to lift the shadow of deportation from a generation of young, law-abiding immigrants called dreamers."
The deferred deportation policy allows young people brought into the states by their undocumented parents to stay if they meet certain requirements.
“I think the most important thing is the President’s values and vision for the Hispanic community,” said Obama’s national political director, Katherine Archuleta, who added that the President believes strongly in a country that benefits from the successes of everyone.
Affordable Care Act health care overhaul
Florida Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz said as a mom, she believes you have nothing if you don’t have your health. She said she appreciates that insurance companies can no longer drop patients for pre-existing conditions and marks it as another way the President is moving forward.
“It’s not surprising that they would be so dismissive of something that’s an important priority to the Hispanic community,” said Schultz about Republican opposition to the Affordable Care Act.
The League of Conservation Voters Senior Vice President for Campaigns Navin Nayak said he believes Latinos care more about environmental issues than the suburban middle class voter. He said Latino communities often bear the negative public health impacts of energy plants and other projects.
“They’re not just going to vote for the Latino or vote for someone because they’re Latino, they’re actually going to vote on these issues,” said Nayak about the unfair perception that the vast majority of Latinos only cast a ballot for the minority candidate.
Get people to the polls!
A report has found Democratic voter registration is down by more than 800,000 since 2008 in key battleground states.
“We have to go into our neighborhoods and we have to talk to our neighbors and our family members about the importance of this election that if they don’t get out there and vote, everything that President Obama has done to help the nine million uninsured Americans is going to be for none," said Verna Blackwell-Hilario, a former delegate from San Antonio who said she doesn’t think that will happen, even though Romney received a boost following the GOP convention in Tampa Florida.
Latinos and the Republican party
An ImpreMedia/Latino Decisions tracking poll found a noticeable increase in the number of Latino supporters for Romney and his running mate, Congressman Paul Ryan, following their party's convention.
Romney has the backing of high-ranking elected officials who happen to be Latino, such as U.S. Senator Marco Rubio from Florida, New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez, and Ted Cruz, who is running for Kay Bailey Hutchison’s U.S. Senate seat from Texas.
Cruz and the Republicans say the President has failed the Latino voter. He told the GOP Convention thtat Obama’s policies for Latinos don’t work and will not work if he's given another term.
“Two-thirds of all new jobs in our economy come from small businesses," said Cruz, "and 2.3 million Hispanics own small businesses, and yet this administration has waged a war on small businesses, a war that is costing our future and our opportunity.”
Latino vote a major factor from now on
Latinos tend to vote Democratic, but no matter which side of the political line people fall, Latinos will have a strong say in this election on a number of issues. President Obama and candidate Romney have laid out clear differences in their platforms on the way they see America in the future.
Blackwell-Hilario said with deadlines to register to vote fast approaching, she thinks the scales will tip in the direction that’ll give Latinos the best chance for opportunity and prosperity.
“They’re going to be very surprised how many Latinos and Hispanics are going to come out to vote this time," said Blackwell-Hilario." We have a tendency to sometime fall asleep because you know, the issues and the message is not there, but this time we’re going to get our message out.”
One thing’s for sure, the Latino choice will be clear on Election Day.