Thursday, 19 April 2012

Obama Campaign Launches Effort to Court Hispanic Voters

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As the 2012 election nears, the race for the Hispanic vote becomes more and more critical, as President Obama and his presumed Republican rival Mitt Romney scramble to recruit minority supporters. The Obama campaign, for example, launched on Wednesday a series of Spanish-language advertisements in Florida, Nevada, and Colorado that highlight the President’s purported dedication to boosting federal funding for education.

Obama is counting on Hispanic voters being ignorant of the fact that there is no empirical evidence showing that federal involvement in education has increased learning in schools. And there is much evidence showing that the costs associated with the federal government taking money from taxpayers and then sending it back to any states that realistically claim they are following federal edicts and guidelines wastes billions of dollars, dollars that states could otherwise spend on education if the money never left the states.

The four ads show Hispanic "Obama for America" supporters detailing, in Spanish, their experience in the education field. The marketing ploy is part of a new campaign called "Latinos for Obama," which also broke ground Wednesday. This particular campaign is "the largest ever national effort to engage Latino Americans in their communities and involve them in the upcoming election through voter registration, volunteering and voting," according to a press release.

Another effort Team Obama recently launched was to dispatch organizers to college campuses and Hispanic-dominated neighborhoods throughout Arizona, a state won by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) in the 2008 presidential race. The operation is a three-month effort to recruit Hispanics and other voters to make the unlikely state a viable contender for Democrats in the November election. However, the New York Times noted:

By any measure the obstacles are considerable: Arizona has voted for precisely one Democratic president since Truman was in the White House. Yet Mr. Obama’s aides said in interviews that they thought it was possible they could move the needle of history by winning in 2012 a state that analysts believe is heading Democratic in national elections, but may not be there yet.

The New American reported earlier this week that the President’s dogmatic efforts to woo Hispanic voters have been quite imperious, as he made an ambitious pledge Saturday to push for immigration reform early in his second term. "This is something I care deeply about, [and] it’s personal to me," Obama vowed during a television interview with Univision, a network viewed largely by Hispanics in the United States. Obama’s appearance on Saturday marked the 15th time he has been interviewed by the network, which purportedly reaches 97 percent of Hispanic households in the United States.

The President’s efforts are powered by an urgency to garner support from the Hispanic community, which has become less and less enthusiastic as Obama has progressed through his tenure in the White House. For example, an Ipsos-Telemundo poll conducted late last year disclosed waning support by the minority group, which has undoubtedly become an expanding segment of the American electorate.

A slight majority, 56 percent — though still higher than polling from the general public — affirmed that they approved of how the President was handling his job. But over the years, Obama’s approval ratings have experienced a steep decline, as 62 percent of Hispanics approved of the President’s performance in June 2011, and a sizable 86 percent approved of his performance in April 2009.

A key component of Team Obama’s effort to recruit Hispanic voters involves attacking Mitt Romney for his so-called "anti-immigrant" sentiments. "President Obama believes that when we prosper, that all of us must prosper and that we recognize all of us are in this together," averred San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, a national co-chairman of the Obama campaign. "Mitt Romney doesn’t believe that. His words and his actions make that clear."

Much of Obama’s offense is based on illegal-immigration legislation like the Dream Act, which is designed to grant legal status to students and young adults who have entered the country illegally. The President’s reelection campaign has railed against the former Massachusetts Governor for his opposition to the contentious bill, which has prompted many students and young adults to rally and protest outside of Romney’s campaign speeches and events.

Some of those who would benefit from the immigration bill have vowed to protest Romney along his campaign path, asserting that his "watered-down" version of the Dream Act — which would provide legal status to illegal aliens who join the military — is not sufficient. "The youth here in my community … agreed we will not take any watered-down version of the Dream Act," said Moises Serrano, one of the protesters. "They’re trying to divide and conquer, and they are not going to divide the movement."

Alberto Martinez, a Florida Republican who works on Hispanic-related issues for Romney, countered the President’s attacks, by pointing to Obama’s failure to revive the economy. "Over the next several months, Hispanic voters will see a clear contrast between President Obama’s failed economic policies and Mitt Romney’s pro-growth, pro-jobs agenda," Martinez charged. "We are confident that Hispanic voters will be inspired by Mitt Romney and his positive vision to restore America’s promise and deliver what all Americans want: a strong, prosperous economy and opportunity for themselves and their families."

All in all, the Hispanic vote is an important one, as the group becomes a larger and more dominant voice in American politics. Obama received extraordinary support from this group in 2008, but when considering the stale economy and a Hispanic unemployment that still exceeds 10 percent, the 2012 presidential race may paint a whole different picture.

Photo: AP Images

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