THE TEA PARTY BEGINS ITS LATINO OUTREACH INITIATIVE

THE HISPANIC BLOG IS THE LATEST HISPANIC NEWS BY JESSICA MARIE GUTIERREZ

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The Tea Party group that sponsored a prime-time response last week to President Obama’s State of the Union address is the latest group recognizing the power of the Latino vote. Officials with the Tea Party Express, the nation’s largest Tea Party political action committee, have been discussing their own Latino outreach, said Sal Russo, the group’s co-founder.
“We’ve been trying to do a bus tour that would focus on communities that we don’t normally talk to,” Russo said.
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Sal Russo Co-Founder of the Tea Party

Russo, who worked for Ronald Reagan when he was California governor, said the former president had a rule that any campaigning should include voters who didn’t traditionally pick Republicans.  “He believed in going to labor unions, going to places where you don’t normally go, so people could hear his message about cutting taxes and growing the economy,” he said.
Officials of Tea Party groups — national and smaller, local ones — like to point out these days that some of the nation’s most prominent Latino politicians, including U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, of Florida, and U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, of Texas, were Tea Party candidates

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The plans by the Tea Party, widely viewed by many liberals as being antithetical to the interests and well-being of minorities, follows an announcement last week by House Republicans about a new, ambitious Latino outreach campaign.  On Feb 11, the House Republican Conference, which essentially represents the chamber’s GOP, launched a Spanish-language Twitter account, @gopespanol. The account is part of a broader plan – still being hashed out – to reach out to Hispanics, and repair their image with them.

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“It’s a recognition that we, as Republicans, did not do as well as we hoped in the 2012 elections with a number of groups – with young people, with women, and with Hispanics,” said Cathy McMorris Rodgers, who is chairperson of the conference and was the House GOP liaison to Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign. Not all Republicans and conservatives are on board with the efforts to court Latinos, particularly when it involves relying on Spanish. Some the most conservative Republicans in the House, for instance, see it as pandering.
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Representative Steve King

In an interview with the National Journal, Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, said he is opposed to trying to reach out to Latinos in Spanish. “There’s a conflicting message that comes out from the Republicans if we want to recognize the unifying power of English, and meanwhile, we send out communications in multiple languages,” said King, who has one of the most hard-line approaches to immigration. “Official business and documents needs to be in English.”

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The 2012 presidential elections, and the critical role that Latinos played in the victory of President Barack Obama, led to soul-searching on the part of many Republicans. Romney won only 27 percent support from Hispanics and even less from Asians in the 2012 presidential election. And an AP-GFK poll last month showed 62 percent of voters want to let otherwise law-abiding undocumented immigrants eventually become citizens — up 12 percentage points from 2010.
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Tea Party members say Latinos, and other minorities, are as critical to their future as the Republicans are finding they are to the future of their party. “The bus tour is the iconic symbol of the Tea Party,” Russo said. “When we’ve gone to some states, like Texas, we’ve had good Hispanic participation. We’re trying to do a [national] bus tour that would be more directed that way.” “We want to try to get our email communication and our website in Spanish,” Russo said. “The Tea Party movement has been successful using social media – emails, Twitter, Facebook. That’s how people found out about us. We have to communicate directly”
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IS JOAQUIN CASTRO THE NEW LATINO POWER?

THE HISPANIC BLOG IS THE LATEST HISPANIC NEWS BY JESSICA MARIE GUTIERREZ

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It struck two months before, more than 1,000 miles from his home district of San Antonio, Texas. But Hurricane Sandy, which caused death and destruction in so much of the Northeast, was weighing heavily on Joaquin Castro on a blustery day in mid-January. That is when he cast his vote in favor of a $50.7 billion emergency bill to provide help to Sandy victims – his very first vote as a U.S. congressman.
“It was an awful tragedy,” Castro, 38, said in an interview with Fox News Latino. “It was my first real vote in Congress. It reminds you of how connected we all are despite the fact that we all represent a different geographic area.”
The former Texas state legislator may be in a bigger pond, but he’s no small fish. Joaquin Castro is already one of the most watched new members of Congress. Shortly after being sworn in, Castro was elected by his Democratic peers in the House to head their freshman class.

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“It’s quite an accomplishment that your colleagues have that kind of faith in you that they elect you to be president of their class,” said former Texas Congressman Charles Gonzalez, whose decision not to seek an eighth term in the U.S. House of Representatives opened the door for Castro to make his move. “It’s pretty hard to get elected. There are no slackers in there. Everyone who got elected rose above other people in what generally were very contested races.”

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“Many have admirable records either in the public or private sector,” Gonzalez, a Democrat, said. “He’ll be trying to keep that class of Democrats united not just for this Congress but for the next.”

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Those who have watched Joaquin Castro and his twin brother, Julian, for some time say they are not surprised that they are – at a relatively young age – causing a sensation at the national political stage. Julian, the mayor of San Antonio, was the bigger star of the two last summer when he was picked to deliver the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C. He made history, becoming the first Latino chosen for that role.

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But in November, Joaquin – who until then was described more often than not as “Julian’s brother” – commanded the brighter spotlight when he was elected to Congress.
“The possibilities are endless for Joaquin,” said Mickey Ibarra, a former Clinton administration official who is founder and chairman of the Latino Leaders Network, a non-profit organization dedicated to bringing together Latino movers and shakers. “Now he and Julian have a national platform. It’s potentially the start of something that lasts a very significant amount of time.”

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In Texas, Joaquin Castro was known for pushing for improvements to education, and raising high school graduation levels among Latinos. Critics find him personally affable though they take issue with his liberal-leaning politics and Democratic views on government spending. Castro said he started entertaining the thought of political office beyond Texas just a few years ago, when he realized there were some things he could not fix as a state lawmaker.

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“I remember when the No Child Left Behind blueprint came out,” he said, “I read the whole blueprint. I attended meetings with folks in education. I noticed that not once did the blueprint mention the word ‘counselors.’”
High school counseling long had been a pet concern of Castro, who saw it as lacking because, he said, the student-to-counselor ratio in much of Texas was 420-to-1. It was something he pushed to address in the state legislature. But improving counseling – which, he said, often is hampered because advisors’ workloads are spread too thin – was critical at the national level, he said.

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“I realized the way I wanted to approach some issues, I would have to deal with them at the federal level,” he said. “There were gaps in my ability to do things at the state level.”

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Joaquin Castro, arguably, is the face of manifold trends involving Latinos and politics.
“If Republicans do not do better in the Hispanic community, in a few short years Republicans will no longer be the majority part in our state,” Sen. Ted Cruz, a Texas Republican and also a first-timer in Congress, was quoted as saying in The New Yorker.

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Some media reports are already spinning visions of a contested Senate race in six years between Cruz, a Tea Party favorite who was just elected in November, and Joaquin Castro. In the race for Gonzalez’s seat, Castro defeated Republican David Rosa.

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ELECTION 2012: HOW EFFECTIVE IS THE HISPANIC VOTE?

 

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THIS WEEK: ARE LATINOS CON ROMNEY OR OBAMA?

THE HISPANIC BLOG IS THE LATEST HISPANIC NEWS BY JESSICA MARIE GUTIERREZ

While President Obama enjoys a wide lead among Latino voters across the country, Mitt Romney has made some headway with Latinos in swing states, according to this week’s tracking poll by Latino Decisions for impreMedia. The poll showed that 33 percent of Hispanic voters in ten battleground states were “certain” or “thinking about” voting for Romney, a slight gain from prior weeks for the Republican candidate.
Still, the same poll found that President Obama had his strongest week to date with those surveyed. Fifty one percent of Latino voters in ten battleground states said they trust Obama more than his opponent to handle the economy, compared to 27 percent who said they trusted Romney and Republicans more.

Nationally, 72 percent of voters favor Obama on the economy, and more than 20 percent favor Romney — a significant increase from just four weeks ago when 59 percent favored Obama and 30 percent favored Romney. Romney and his running mate Paul Ryan have campaigned on a promise of economic recovery in the Hispanic community, where the unemployment rate sits at 11 percent, three full points higher than the national average. Despite the GOP‘s focus on their economic message, Latino voters are siding with Obama nationally when it comes to the issue.
Furthermore, Romney lacks strong “core support” from respondents in the Latino community,” according to Latino Decisions. Just 10 percent of those surveyed said they had a “very favorable” opinion of Romney, while 55 percent of those surveyed had a “very favorable” opinion of Obama.
The Latino Decisions pollsters in part attribute Obama’s gain this week to Romney’s recent ’47 percent’ comments. “Romney’s infamous comments about the ’47 percent’ are clearly hurting him among Latinos,” Matt Barreto of Latino Decisions said. “He appears out of touch with the average working class family.” Latinos will play a key role in the election, as a growing population in key swing states, many pollsters argue. However, questions remain about just how many of these voters will turn up to the polls on election day.

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LESS THAN 5% OF POLITICAL TV AD MONEY GOES TO SPANISH-LANGUAGE MEDIA

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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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