For the Hispanic voter, when deciding to choose between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, a common refrain then was that we did not know Obama politically! We know he gives great speeches and has a rock star allure about him, but other than that little was known politically about him. Hillary Clinton on the other hand was know and for that reason carried the Hispanic vote.
The Hispanic vote is a crucial piece to the Presidential popular vote, without the Hispanic vote neither Obama nor McCain can win the Presidency. According to the latest polls Obama enjoys a 30-40% point leading with Hispanic voters over Senator McCain. Senator McCain does not need a majority of Hispanic votes, but to win he will need to attract close to 35% of the Latino vote. President Bush received almost 45% of this vote in 2004, in a race he barely won.
Reaching out to the Hispanic voter is crucial to both candidates and why both McCain and Obama have been making the rounds to Hispanic events such as the NAELO (National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials) conference, the LULAC (League of United Latin American Citizens), and this weekend they both will be at the NCLR (National Council of La Raza) conference.
As we noted the issue with Obama is the community really doesn’t know him. His speeches are inspiring, but even those have shifted ever so slightly to appeal to the more moderate/conservative voter. This weekend we had hoped to sit down and talk with Obama to get to know him a little better, to put to rest the persistent issue that Hispanic voters do not know the man.
But herein lays the problem. Obama acknowledges that he does not want to take the Hispanic vote for granted, since he enjoys a comfortable lead with Hispanic voters and California is already being counted in the win column for him. Other than to come to California to give speeches and to raise funds, the Obama campaign has focused its resources and efforts in other states. So despite the proclamation that the Hispanic vote is not being taken for granted, that is exactly what has happened. The Obama campaign is taking the Hispanic vote for granted, offering little if nothing in return.
The Obama campaign is spending little money in California to register Hispanic voters, voters that will be here long after the General Election. While the Obama campaign speaks about immigration, driver’s licenses for the undocumented, and the DREAM Act all immigrant issues, hardly a word has been heard about the issues affecting native born and middle class Hispanic voters.
Even on immigration Obama’s position is a little fuzzy. He talks about securing the border; the question is what his definition of a secure border is? And if we are talking about securing the border, what then of the Canadian border since it is documented that the 9/11 terrorist slipped across that border? We would like to ask him why he supported building a 700 mile fence along the border.
Another question Obama has not addressed is what programs does he propose to incorporate the Hispanic community into the power structure, the economic structure? What about education? To date all that the Hispanic community has gotten are sound bites. We were hoping to get a feel for the man, but it appears that is not going to happen!
La Prensa San Diego understands that it is not a daily newspaper with the scope of a La Opinion, but knowing even though it was a long shot at best, in hopes that an opportunity to sit down with Presidential candidate Obama would present itself. While a daunting task, we anticipated finding the right person to talk with. We tried to find out who the Hispanic point man for Obama in California was. It was only after several days did we learn who he was and that he was no longer in California but in one those other more important state working the Hispanic vote. We sent him an email to no avail. Our efforts led to another person who finally gave us an email for the media person in San Diego, we sent him an email that to date has not been responded to in any for or fashion.
Senator McCain, on the other hand, will also be in San Diego. Fortunately, contacting his campaign was a different story. Within an hour we got the name and phone number of his local contact. We contacted that person, left a message and in less than an hour our message was answered. That person worked to provide information and contacts. While we do not know if there will be a one-on-one interview with Senator McCain at least his campaign was responsive to our request. This alone says a lot about the McCain campaign and the Obama campaign. All politics is local!