With the negative ads flying in this year’s political campaigns, many voters may be struggling to separate fact from fiction. But some Hispanic Americans would rather hear a few tall tales than, some critics say, be taken for granted. Both Democrats and Republicans say they’ve made the Hispanic vote a priority. But less than 5 percent of all political TV ad money goes to Spanish-language media, according to a study released Monday by the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. It’s a matter of respect for some Hispanic leaders, who see the lack of funding as a dismissal of the fastest-growing voting bloc, and one that is expected to play a critical role in November. The campaigns are excluding millions of voters from the political conversation, said Javier Palomarez, president of the Hispanic chamber.

“Like all Americans, Hispanics are perfectly capable of judging negative advertising for what it is,” Palomarez said. “What matters is that campaigns prioritize Hispanic voters in a manner that is equivalent to their ever increasing electoral significance.”

Many Latinos are watching English-language broadcasts and the campaigns should take that into account, but they also should not ignore Spanish-language media, said Arturo Vargas, executive director of National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials. Voters who watch Spanish-language channels are more likely to be naturalized citizens. And naturalized citizens tend to vote in higher percentages than native-born Latinos, who are more likely to take the right to vote for granted, Vargas said.

Some 12 million Hispanics are expected to vote in this year’s election. Their vote is seen as critical in swing states with large Hispanic populations, such as Nevada, Florida and Colorado. Voter turnout is at the forefront of both President Obama’s and GOP nominee Mitt Romney’s efforts to mobilize the Hispanic community.

Just $16 million of the approximately $360 million spent on all campaign television advertising since April has been used in Spanish-language markets through Sept. 25, according to the chamber study, which has been tracking TV ad spending. The study tracked advertising spending in 10 states: Florida, Colorado, Virginia, Nevada, Arizona, California, Illinois, New Mexico, New York and Texas.

In Florida, Hispanics make up about 16 percent of registered voters, yet Spanish-language ads accounted for just 7 percent of the $107 million spent on all political advertising in the state. Miami, one of the nation’s largest Hispanic markets, does better. Candidates and supporters spend about 31 percent of their ad dollars on Spanish-language media trying to woo the largely Cuban, Puerto Rican and Colombian electorate.

Democrats spent nearly twice as much, or more, than Republicans on Spanish-language ads in Florida, Colorado and Texas. Of the 10 states studied, Republicans outspent Democrats only in New York and spent the same amount, which was nothing, in Illinois and Virginia. The advertising markets studied in Virginia did not include the Washington metro area.

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The gap in political spending is particularly stark in California, where less than 3 percent of spending is on Spanish-language ads despite Latinos making up nearly 20 percent of registered voters, and in Texas, where less than 6 percent of spending is on Spanish-language ads despite Latinos making up 23 percent of registered voters. Neither state is considered competitive in the presidential contest.

“Television advertising is reality,” said Ken Goldstein, president of Kantar Media’s Campaign Media Analysis Group, which conducted the study. “Campaigns can say they have a bunch of money, but if they’re not advertising then they don’t have a bunch of money. Campaigns can say a state is competitive, but if they’re not advertising there, the state is not competitive. Campaigns can say they want to talk about a particular message, but if they’re not doing it in their paid advertising, they’re not serious.”

In the presidential race, $10 million was spent on Spanish-language TV ads and $158 million spent on English-language ads. Democrats spent more than twice as much as Republicans on Spanish-language ads. The numbers include spending both by parties and so-called “Super” PACs.
Romney released his latest Spanish-language ad, titled “Nuestra Comunidad,” last week featuring the former Massachusetts governor clasping hands with Hispanic supporters and posing for photos with Hispanic children. Republican Puerto Rico Gov. Luis Fortuno, who narrates the video, pledges that Romney can “revive the American dream” for Latino families. The Romney campaign plans to “spend more on Spanish-language advertising” than either John McCain or George W. Bush did in their 2008 and 2000 and 2004 presidential races, according to Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul.

The Obama campaign said its Hispanic outreach efforts are more about substance than spending and boasted the campaign has been running Spanish-language radio and TV ads since April. The campaign uses many forms of digital communication.

President Obama heps organize a group of kids for a photo outside the Lechonera El Barrio cafe in the Azalea Park neighborhood of Orlando, Fla. The president had stopped to pick up lunch and paused for photos with the children. (David Nakamura/The Washington Post)

“Throughout the campaign, we have used all the tools at our disposal, from innovative advertising to grassroots organizing in the Latino community to promote the president’s record,” said Obama spokeswoman Gabriela Domenzain. Some observers question whether the lack of advertising in Spanish-language markets is because of trends that show more Hispanics tuning in to English-language TV.

Univision and ABC announced this spring that they would partner to build the nation’s first English-language news and information channel for U.S. Hispanics. Based in Miami, the 24-hour channel is expected to begin airing next year.

But Palomarez called it a “gross miscalculation” by any campaign to spend 96 percent of its advertising on English-language markets. He noted that top shows on Univision often rivals the viewership on major English-language networks.“The numbers speak for themselves,” he said.

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JUDY WOODRUFF: Christina, what does it look like, 50/50?
You’ve got — first of all, you’re going to see dozens and dozens of polls over the next five months. And some of them are going to be a little bit more important than others. But one of the things that you’re seeing nationally is that, since it’s been clear that Mitt Romney is the presumptive Republican nominee here, he’s starting to inch up a little bit on the president in national perspective.

But in the battleground states, where the president’s team has really invested a lot of money in their ground game, their campaign infrastructure, hiring a lot of people and registering voters, you’re seeing it a little bit stronger for the president in some of them and then Romney having a little bit of ground to make up in both.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So, speaking of those battlegrounds states, if you look at a map of the United States — and we just happen to have our Vote 2012 Map Center right here to show everybody — you see those states in blue that are considered either solidly or leaning Democratic. In red, we’re showing the states that are solidly or leaning Republican, and then yellow, eight states that are tossups.
So, Stu, let’s talk about those. And let’s start on the East Coast and work our way west with Florida, which keeps everybody guessing, at least at this stage of the campaign. What does Florida look like?

photo source: Flickr

STUART ROTHENBERG: Right, certainly as it did in 2000.
Well, there’s a recent NBC News/Marist poll that has the president up by four points, 48 to 44. That’s among registered voters. If you look historically at Florida, Judy it performs more Republican than the country as a whole. That is a few points more Republican. So, although President Obama won it last time, he didn’t win it by anything close to the over seven points he won nationally.
I think you have to look at Florida in a number of ways. Hispanics are an important constituency, senior citizens, of course. But really Florida is three states in one. North Florida performs the way the South does. It’s conservative. South Florida, particularly the Gold Coast, the Miami-Broward portion of the state, is more like New Jersey. So Florida is going to be determined probably by swing voters in the I-4 Corridor, that central part of the belt stretching from Orlando all the way over to Tampa-St. Pete.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Which we hear about in every election.
So, let’s move up a little bit north there to Virginia.
CHRISTINA BELLANTONI: Right. Virginia is the battleground of all battlegrounds. Of course, it did not vote Democratic — it voted Democratic in 2008, but it hadn’t since 1964. This was a big win for Barack Obama in 2008.
And they did that in part by targeting a lot of the expanding suburbs in the Washington area in Northern Virginia and also looking at this military region, Hampton Roads, and also targeting younger voters and the changing demographics of Virginia.
So, this is something — you’re going to see this, both campaigns put a lot of energy and resources there. It’s very easy for the president to cross over into Virginia and campaign here. You saw him hold one of his first reelection rallies in Richmond.
And you’re going to see a lot more there. And Mitt Romney has made very clear he’s going to contest here. When you look at where these campaigns are advertising, Virginia is almost always on the list for the campaigns and the super PACs that are backing them.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So long, as you say, a state the Republicans could almost take for granted, but not anymore.
So, Stu, let’s turn to the Midwest, and quickly look at three states there, starting with Ohio.
STUART ROTHENBERG: So there’s a recent NBC News/Marist poll that shows the president up by five points, though only in the mid-40s, against Mitt Romney. Ohio went for Bush in 2000 and 2004.
It then went for President Obama, not the way it did it nationally. Nationally, the president won by seven. In Ohio, it was about 4.5 points. I think one of the interesting things about Ohio is the economic recovery. The automobile industry and the overall sense that the economy is coming back, will that help the president enough to help him carry a state that, all things being equal — and they are never equal, Judy — but all things being equal, the Republicans have a slight advantage in.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Okay, and near and still in the Midwest, Christina,  Iowa.
CHRISTINA BELLANTONI: Iowa, this is a really interesting state because it has swung for both parties over the presidential years.
And, obviously, it’s very near and dear to President Obama’s heart because it is where he was able to sort of start his path to the Democratic nomination in 2008 by winning the caucuses. He put a lot of investment in getting the young college voters in that state to get engaged for him. He has campaigned there many times.
He has sent the vice president there many times. But it’s also an interesting state because the economy is a little bit better in Iowa than it is in other parts of the country. And you’re also seeing a pretty strong Republican effort in some of the down-ballot races. So, you have got some competitive congressional races. You’re seeing a lot of advertising at that level.
So, this is not a state that the Obama campaign can take for granted this year.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And, Stu, quickly to Wisconsin, which is a state that all — that also has a very closely watched governor recall.
And the state is very polarized. The recall shows the race close, as Gov. Scott Walker facing a recall against Tom Barrett. Fascinating state, Judy. In 2000 and 2004, this state went Democratic by each time less than one-half of 1 percent. And yet in 2008, it blew open. The president won it by almost 14 percentage points.
The question is, now, is it going to come back? Some of these Upper Midwest states like good government candidates who talk about bringing the country together. I think the thing to watch here is white working-class voters and to what extent are they dissatisfied with the economy.
JUDY WOODRUFF: All right, we’re going to touch just very briefly now on these last few states we want to talk about.
Christina, in New   Hampshire, it’s only four electoral votes, but in a close race, that could matter.
CHRISTINA BELLANTONI: Especially when you have got Mitt Romney, who was the governor of Massachusetts. He owns property in New Hampshire. He has spent a lot of time there. He’s beloved by a lot of these residents and it really has got this independent streak. It backed President Obama in 2008, but they do like to make a little bit of a switch here.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And, Stu, moving out west, Colorado?
STUART ROTHENBERG: I would say the two keys here are Hispanics and suburban voters. This is the West, but it’s not the West like Wyoming or Arizona or Montana.
There are a whole bunch of suburban voters here around the Denver area that probably will decide this election and again the Hispanic turnout.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And, Christina, the last of these swing states we’re looking at is Nevada.
CHRISTINA BELLANTONI: Yes. And the Hispanic turnout is very, very important in this race.
And you have also got the president was able to activate a very strong Democratic base in that state in 2008. He helped Senator — Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid win reelection in 2010 with that. And that’s what he’s trying to do now. And we have noticed these campaigns are not advertising there, in part because the president is standing strong.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So let’s finally look at the map again and talk just quickly about what the president and what Gov. Romney have to do to get to that 270, which is what they need. Several paths, Stu, for the president, but maybe only a few for Gov. Romney.
STUART ROTHENBERG: That’s true. Romney must win Ohio and Florida.
And then I think the key is going to come down to Wisconsin, Virginia, Colorado. I think Virginia is going to be a crucial state, Judy. And I don’t say that just because we’re located in Virginia at the moment. You know, when you do the math, if the Republicans win the states that they have in the past, if Romney wins them, it’s going to come down to a handful of states.
The president has a lot more opportunities. If he can pick off Ohio, for example, he makes it impossible for Mitt Romney to win.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Quick last word.
CHRISTINA BELLANTONI: And you can take a look on our Map Center. Basically, if the president is able to win all of these states, he wins reelection fairly easily. But if Mitt Romney is able to pick off just a few — he’s going to need a lot more than that. He’s basically going to run the table with some of these states to be able to make this happen.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And when our — I should just say that our viewers can go online to our Web site, look at this map. You can play with it. You can see what it means when different states go Romney or Obama. You can see the different paths and make it turn out any way you want. Is that right?
JUDY WOODRUFF: Unlike in November, when it really counts.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Christina Bellantoni, Stu Rothenberg, thank you both.

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Jonathan Ernst / Reuters

Hoping to defuse an issue hurting Republicans among Hispanic voters, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio is working on a compromise alternative to the DREAM Act, a proposal backed strongly by Democrats and Hispanics to offer a normal life to children of illegal immigrant families.

But Rubio is taking a risk that his compromise will please neither side. It could anger tea party-style Republicans while failing to satisfy many of his own Hispanic constituents. So far, he hasn’t persuaded even leaders of his own party, including presumptive presidential nominee Mitt Romney and House Speaker John Boehner, to get in line.

According to teaparty.org if the Tea Party wins so does America…

“It’s a significant risk,” said retired University of South Florida political scientist Darryl Paulson, a Republican. “The primary thing any political candidate wants to do is solidify his base, and this could fracture that base.” 
Rubio has been accused of using the issue as an election-year ploy, but his spokesman Alex Conant said, “There’s just as much political peril as there is potential benefit in doing anything like this.”
Originally proposed by members of both parties 10 years ago, the original DREAM Act would allow a path to citizenship for young people brought here as children when their families illegally immigrated, if they attend college or serve in the military. The name is an acronym for Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors. Such young people, not having known any other home, often are prevented from going to college because of their undocumented status, even after serving in the military. The DREAM Act would allow student loans and work-study jobs but not federal higher education grants for the students.

Daniela Pelaez/ Photo by Bill Clark/Roll Call

One recent case involved the valedictorian of North Miami High School, Daniela Pelaez, an aspiring surgeon. Admitted to the University of Florida and Dartmouth College, she instead faced deportation because her family came here illegally from Colombia when she was 4 years old. Pelaez got a respite from deportation last month after her case made headlines and sparked demonstrations by fellow students.

Daniela Pelaez 18, Alberto Carvalho, superintendent for Miami-Dade Public Schools, and Dayana Pelaez 26, at press conference, where over twenty-five hundred students protest the possible deportation of student Daniela Pelaez 18, this Friday morning, March 2, 2012, at the North Miami Senior High School. Walter Michot / Miami Herald

Rubio recently told The Huffington Post he wants “a bipartisan solution … that does not reward or encourage illegal immigration by granting amnesty, but helps accommodate talented young people like Daniela, who find themselves undocumented through no fault of their own.” Throughout his career, Rubio has had to thread the needle on immigration issues, trying on the one hand to please his conservative base, but also satisfy his Hispanic constituency. That has led him to compromise or to take ambivalent positions on issues, including official English and tough state anti-illegal immigrant laws. The son of a Cuban immigrant family, Rubio has said the original DREAM Act is flawed because allowing a path to citizenship could lead to “chain migration,” in which family members sponsor each other.

His proposal, which he hopes will be considered this summer, will include a temporary student visa rather than citizenship or legal resident status for students. But it likely would allow the students eventually to apply for legal residency without returning to their parents’ home countries. Those honorably discharged from the military, Conant said, also would be able to seek legal residency or citizenship.

Getty Images

Democrats who back the original DREAM Act, a 10-year-old proposal that passed in the House last year but failed in the Senate, decry Rubio’s idea as creating a permanent underclass of “bracero” non-citizen workers.

Rodolfo De La Garza CU Political Scientist/ Columbia Talk Radio

“It makes a very limited offer to a small segment of the population,” said Rodolfo de la Garza, a Columbia University political scientist who specializes in Hispanic voters. “I think what most Latinos are going to pick up on is what I have to characterize as either a political ploy or profound disingenuousness to the point of deceit on Rubio’s part.” He called the DREAM Act “the one issue on which there is a clear Latino position — they are 75-80 percent in favor of it in numerous polls.”
Conant called the bracero allegation “nonsense.” “Nothing is in this proposal that would prohibit these kids from someday seeking permanent residence or citizenship.”

Immigrants chant slogans during a rally Monday, May 1, 2006, in Miami. Hundreds of thousands of mostly Hispanic immigrants skipped work and took to the streets Monday, flexing their newfound political muscle in a nationwide boycott that succeeded in slowing or shutting many farms, factories, markets and restaurants. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)

In a national poll of Hispanic voters in January by Univision, ABC and Latino Decisions, respondents cited “immigration reform/DREAM Act” as tied with the economy and jobs as the top issue in their voting decisions for the November election. In Florida, where large numbers of Hispanics are either Cuban refugees, who automatically receive resident status, or Puerto Ricans who are citizens, immigration and the DREAM Act were still in second place, with 17 percent, to 23 percent for the economy. Despite that, Romney said during the primary campaign that he would veto the DREAM Act, although he favored the idea for illegal immigrants who serve in the military.

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney shakes hands with Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) after Romney was introduced by Rubio during a town-hall-style meeting in Aston, Pa.
Jae C. Hong / AP

Earlier this week, Romney declined to endorse Rubio’s compromise, even though he was standing next to Rubio in a joint news conference in Pennsylvania at the time. “It has many features to commend it,” Romney said, “but it’s something that we’re studying.” He said he expects to lay out immigration proposals before the November election, but added, “Obviously our first priority is to secure the border.”
Also this week, Boehner said it is unlikely Rubio’s proposal could pass the House this year, citing “a very hostile political environment.” “To deal with a very difficult issue like this, I think it would be difficult at best,” he said. Conant called Romney’s reluctance “totally understandable, that he would want to see the plan’s details before endorsing the plan. But the idea isn’t likely to be popular with the tea party Republicans to whom Romney and Boehner must appeal. 

Boehner To Rubio: DREAM On, Dude! photo by Jeff Malet

“It’s an amnesty bill — it rewards lawbreaking,” said Bob Dane, spokesman for the Federation for American Immigration Reform, an anti-illegal immigration advocacy group. “Rubio is marching off into McCain-land” — a reference to Ariz. Sen. JohnMcCain’s support for an immigration reform bill that would have allowed a path to citizenship. “Whatever support he’s going to pick up from Hispanics is probably going to be far outweighed by what he loses from his conservative base.” he said. Rubio’s idea may get a better reception, but still not unanimous approval, from tea partiers in his home state, who consider him a hero.

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R) of Utah waits to speak during a Tea Party Express town hall meeting at the National Press Club in Washington Tuesday.
Cliff Owen/AP

“Some people draw the hard line, absolutely no amnesty, but some tea party groups understand you’re trying to address a difficult issue,” said tea party leader Karin Hoffman, who said she formed her opinion from online forums and message boards. “They acknowledge you’re providing a way for them (young illegal immigrants) to be a contributing member of society, and it’s not blanket amnesty — it’s for the individual alone.”

Read More: Tampa Bay Online

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Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, widely speculated to be a top pick for the Republican presidential running mate, once again firmly denied he would join the GOP ticket.

“I’m not going to be the vice president,” Rubio said Friday in an interview with CNN en Español‘s Ismael Cala. “I’m not.”

photo source AP

“I’ll tell you, the Hispanic vote has to be earned,” he said. “You can’t just put somebody on there and say, ‘This is gonna deliver it.’ You’ve got to earn it, and primarily I think you earn it through economic policies.”

Last month, Rubio rolled out a big endorsement for Mitt Romney, adding fuel to the fire in talks over whether Rubio, whose parents emigrated from Cuba, would possibly be tapped for the Republican veep spot. Rubio, however, has repeatedly shot down the notion. With Latino-Americans becoming a more influential voting bloc, politicians are increasingly growing more aggressive in their efforts to court their votes. But the junior senator argued Friday that choosing him as a running mate would not do the trick.

In Florida, Republican Marco Rubio won the senate seat convincingly, with a strong turnout from Latino voters. Photograph: Gary Rothstein/EPA

“I think a better approach is the one I’ve talked about, and that is providing these kids some sort of non-immigrant visa status so they can continue to study and then work in the U.S.,” Rubio said. “Then at some point in the future they would be able to get in line, same line as everybody else in the world.”

Elected in 2010, Rubio was dubbed early on a rising star in GOP. He’s known for bucking popular policies within the Latino community, such as the DREAM Act, a proposal that would grant a path to citizenship for minors in the country illegally, providing they served in the armed forces or attended college. Instead, he sides with positions more inline with the Republican platform on immigration.

Asked if he was setting aside a vice presidential spot in hopes of aiming for higher office in the future, Rubio said:

Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, of Florida, works in his Washington office. (EFE)

“Well I haven’t thought about that in that way. I don’t know what the future holds. I want to do a good job as a U.S. senator. “I think if I do that, I’ll have opportunities to do different things in future.”


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Hispanics are comprised of 16 percent of the U.S. population, just 43 percent of Hispanics are eligible to vote. According to the Pew Demographics report, Latinos have a higher proportion of non-citizens and those under 18-years-of-age. This is spread among many states and diminishes the impact on elections and the Electoral College. In some states, Latinos only comprise of as little as one or two percent of the electorate.

However, in states such as California and Nevada, the demographic effects of the Hispanic and Latino vote can impact the results dramatically. In these states, both political parties will be competing for their votes using the issues that are important to these voters.

The Hispanic population in Florida is the third-largest in the nation with Latinos representing 13.1% of all votes for the state. Candidates will be paying the closest attention to the state of New Mexico that accounts for the largest percentage of Hispanic voters at 39%.

The demographic reality may affect the way both political parties discuss and handle policies that alienate Latinos. However, unless there is a higher proportion of Latinos voting in 2012 could determine which party controls the presidency and both houses of Congress for the next four years.


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