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A Clinton Corner in Obama's Home Town

By Kari Lydersen
CHICAGO -- Chicago may be Barack Obama's back yard, but at a Latino Educators for Hillary dinner in the mostly Mexican neighborhood of Pilsen Wednesday night, attendees had harsh words for him.

"Arrogant," "impulsive," "hypocritical," and "anti-immigrant" were just some of the insults lobbed at Obama at an event hosted by Danny Solis, the Pilsen alderman and, yes, brother of Hillary Clinton campaign manager Patty Solis Doyle. (Solis himself described Obama as "Okay, but not ready yet.")

Both the Clinton and Obama camps are vying hard for the Latino vote in the week leading up to Super Tuesday. And both candidates also have Chicago connections that make Illinois, with one of the country's larger Latino populations (5 percent of the electorate) and a long history of powerful Latino politicians in Chicago, look like fertile ground.

It was a Solis family affair in Pilsen, with Alderman Solis joined by his daughter Maya, a Clinton campaign staffer, and his ex-wife Luz Maria Solis, a Clinton campaign volunteer and early childhood program administrator.

While the Solis family has a great deal of sway in Pilsen, Obama has significant support in Chicago's Latino community as a whole. He is backed by a coalition of Latino elected officials including Rep. Luis Gutierrez, whose district includes Pilsen, city clerk Miguel del Valle and various aldermen. Some Latino community leaders liken Obama's rise to the Latino movement which played a significant role in electing Chicago's first black mayor, Harold Washington, in 1983.

Many of the about 25 teachers and school administrators at Fogata Village restaurant had campaigned for and voted for Obama during his U.S. Senate campaign, but became disillusioned with him since.

Rosalba Priego, 51, said her two daughters volunteered for Obama's Senate campaign but found him and Michelle Obama "arrogant and unapproachable."

Alvaro Obregon, 41 and a staffer at a community organization, also campaigned for Obama in the Senate race but said Clinton impressed him more on "the issues." He said he tried to convince his 76-year-old mother to extend her vacation in balmy Mexico for the winter, but she was determined to return to Chicago to vote for Clinton.

Teresa Langa, a librarian in the hardscrabble, Mexican immigrant Back of the Yards neighborhood, described Obama as "anti-immigrant" because he voted for the Secure Fence Act calling for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border -- though Clinton also voted for the bill. She also blasted Obama for not attending the city's two large immigration marches, though he did in fact march and speak at the May 1 march.

A number of attendees felt the media is unfairly beating up on Clinton, and lionizing Obama in an effort "to prove we're not racist," in the words of education researcher Macarena Correa, 29. "You look at the pictures they post of her, her face is distorted. He always looks perfect."

"It's okay to attack a woman, but don't go anywhere near any other minorities. They're all walking on eggshells," added Langa.

Tomas Revollo, an educational and political consultant who hosted the event, said Obama lost his vote during his kick-off in Springfield, Ill., when he characterized his campaign as one of the new generation.

"Well, I'm 57, does that mean he doesn't want me?" Revollo said, standing near a photo mounted on the wall showing Clinton embracing an older woman in a restaurant. He said he almost fainted when he got a call from legendary labor organizer and Clinton supporter Dolores Huerta earlier in the week.

The Clinton campaign has at least five Chicago events scheduled in the six days leading up to Super Tuesday, most of them in or around Pilsen. Meanwhile, Latino politicians supporting Obama, including Gutierrez, are holding strategy meetings and press conferences of their own. They describe Obama's close ties with pro-immigrant legislators and community leaders and his involvement with Latino groups during his time as a community organizer.

This hasn't impress Revollo, a former Bobby Kennedy devotee who was equally unmoved by the Kennedy endorsement of Obama. "The Latino vote is for the taking, and Obama's not taking it," he said.

By Web Politics Editor  |  January 31, 2008; 9:05 AM ET
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Robert F. Kennedy once remarked:

"All of us, from the wealthiest and most powerful of men to the weakest and hungriest of children, share one precious possession: the name 'American.' It is not easy to know what that means. But in part to be an American means to have been an outcast and a stranger, to have come to the exiles' country, and to know that he who denies the outcast and stranger among us at that moment also denies America."

During the debate Thursday night, Barack Obama echoed RFK when he said, to applause, that arguments about how the inner-city unemployment of blacks is related to the influx of immigration is a case of "scapegoating" immigrants.

Hillary, fresh from her campaign of racial coding in South Carolina, countered by claiming--against all evidence--that voters needed to realize that immigrants do take the jobs of low-income Americans.

America is tired of the arrogance, misrepresentations, corruption and lack of that elusive thing called grace that characterized Bill Clinton's "co-presidency" with Hillary.

Clean slate !!!
Barack Obama,
'08 !!!


Posted by: Martinedwinandersen | February 2, 2008 1:21 AM | Report abuse

I have been a Clinton supporter all my life. I am a regular person with no political ties to anyone or anything. However, as a Hispanic-American, with parents originating from both Puerto Rico and Mexico, and born in the city of Chicago, I had been waiting for one of the democratic candidates to make a stand for immigrants/undocumented workers in this country. All along I felt Obama had not made a clear stand or an effort to be a voice to human beings in this country who either by choice or no choice of their own, are in this country without documentation, but long to be citizens, long to be treated like human beings, long to have the resources and means to learn English, and are tired of the exploitation, and finally, abhor the labels and bigotry of being called aliens--they are not aliens! They are people: Men, Women, and Children. America's people! Last night's debate changed my entire perception of Obama, and I will state why at the end of this commentary. But first, I would like to say that anyone of Hispanic/Latino decent is motivated by four major things: God, Family, Work, and Brotherhood. This is the message of our ancestors, of our parents, and grandparents alike. It is who we are! We are a people here in America willing to work and pursue the American dream for the sake of bettering our lives and the lives of our families and friends. Being Latino/Hispanic, whether we are American-born or here without documentation, is embracing all races--we are a people consisting of a mixed ancestry of European, African, Native of North, South, and Central America, Natives of the Caribbean, and in many of our parents' native countries we even have Asian influence and blood. White, black, and brown blood runs through our veins, so when we are persecuted by whites and we are persecuted by blacks, in essence, they are persecuting themselves. However, many whites and blacks in America have not grasped this concept because there are certain powers that be that have for many years focused on dividing us, instead of bringing us together like brothers and sisters. If you grew up in a Hispanic/Latino home, then you understand that we are black, white and brown. Our mothers can be white, yet our fathers can be brown or black. Our grandparents can have blue or green eyes, yet our children can be brown with brown eyes. What unites us is our love for our family, which transcends all color. For hundreds of years, we have embraced all colors within our culture because it is who we are. My appeal to whites, blacks, Asians, and whoever else, is to stand with me as family and as my friend, and choose the candidate who will unite us as one people. Choose the candidate who will uphold human and civil rights. Choose the candidate who will stop dividing us and blaming one group for problems of this country. Unfortunately, as a Hispanic-American, I feel the rhetoric utilized by the media and republican candidates has alienated an entire people who identify as Latinos/Hispanic Americans by focusing on just the illegal immigrants by the border, which tend to be of Latino/Hispanic decent. The rhetoric is filled with so much hate that even though, I am an American, working for a very large company, making almost a six figure salary, I am still affected wherever I go, where there is large anti-immigrant sentiment, like in the South and even the state of Michigan now. There are other large populations of immigrants here illegally all over this country who are not of Hispanic/Latino decent. Chicago's largest population of illegal immigrant's is not Hispanic/Latino. However, we cannot blame only Republicans for this mess. Democrats were the first to call for a deportation of immigrants here illegally. Who will be the party who will truly look out for the best interest of human-beings who have lived unjustly in this country for decades, but sacrifice it all to make a better living for their children? Yes, many of them here illegally, but they are mothers, fathers, and children. Human beings like you and me: Black, brown, white, etc.

The undocumented worker or immigrant here illegally can be white, black, brown, etc. They can look like Obama, Clinton, or Chavez. The undocumented worker or immigrant here illegally could haven been your Polish grandmother at some point, or could have been your Jamaican mother. You ask me how do I know this? It is because I still meet these polish and Jamaican immigrants here illegally, everyday. I marched with them side by side during the marches in Chicago, where I met Senator Obama. However, the media did not focus on our unity. The media also, downplayed the fact that many who marched during the immigrant rights' rallies are legal citizens of the United States of America with voting power. And our voice will be heard during the primary and general elections. Therefore, as true democrats, the illegal immigrants' fight, is our fight. So understand when we blame immigrants who are here illegally on our country's economic issues that is truly a scapegoat. Anyone who encourages you to believe undocumented workers are the root of our economic crisis is diverting you from the real truth. The truth is our country's economy has been destroyed by this unjustified war, tax cuts for the rich, and a bad administration.

I am tired of our people being labeled as the cause of economic instability and job loss for the African-American community and other groups, overall. This prevalent misconception has been an evil that has caused division within the black and Latino community for a long time. Being Latino is being black; it is also being brown and white. Finally, understand that speaking Spanish in addition to English does not make you inferior; it makes you more competitive with other countries. Just ask other countries that mandate for all of their citizens to learn at least 3 languages. America, as a leader, should want to embrace higher education and pursue multiple-linguistic capability. In interviews, I used to hear Obama define himself as a Hybrid person. Well, being Latino is being Hybrid--having mixed ancestry and multi-lingual capabilities. We have known this for hundreds of years. We will need to come together in order for the right candidate to get elected. If we do not, then I assure you the hope will die, as the power will be handed back to the Republicans come November.

During last nights debate, to my surprise, only one candidate stood up entirely for the illegal immigrants in this country and for Latino values. It was Senator Obama. He got it. Hilary did not. Senator Obama clearly dismissed the idea that blacks in America have economic and job loss due to illegal immigrants. His message was powerful, heartfelt, and sincere. He stated the economic issues are due to other causes and that placing blame on illegal immigrants was a method of scapegoating, diverting from the truth. Senator Clinton, on the other hand, with her comments, encouraged blacks and whites to continue to believe their economic issues are due to the undocumented workers and therefore we need a comprehensive solution to illegal immigration. Her comments reinforced the notion of divide and conquer. Yes, I agree, we need a solution; we need a humane solution that would bring justice to a people who have no voice and who live being lynched at border and exploited everyday. They are being punished because they want a better life. They need a solution that would put them on a path to obtain citizenship quickly and as humanely as possible. Obama asked us to unite. Obama stated that in Chicago he saw whites, blacks, and Hispanics, alike, losing jobs due to our failing economy. He did not blame illegal immigrants. I felt his appeal was to the black community, especially to discourage them from buying into the lies Americans have been fed. A call to action for blacks to unite with Latinos. It is the only way he can win the nomination and general election.

I have never been an Obama supporter, but I was proud of Obama last night. He finally made a stand, publicly. However, he will need to do so much more, as he has waited too long in the game to show his support for us. Furthermore, his wife will also have to make a sincere effort to connect with the Hispanic/Latino community. At this point, she comes off to many of my black and Latino friends as elitist and high class society. She also comes off as only attempting to connect with the black community. Obama has made it clear that Michelle Obama is the rock of his family, which shows she will have a lot of influence over his decisions. Therefore, as Latinos/Hispanics, we would like her to show how sympathetic she will be to the cause of illegal immigrants in this country and civil rights for Hispanics. We would like her to sit down with Hispanic families, and have conversations with Latina mothers, especially those struggling with being deported and leaving their children behind. I would like to hear and see Michelle's reaction. Or is it true that she is unapproachable, as the article above suggests? I think this may be untrue of Obama, as he was very approachable when I met him at an immigrant rights rally in Chicago; he also gave a moving speech at this rally. I always wondered why his speech at this huge rally in Chicago was not featured in the media. Was it by his choice that the media was unaware of his intention to speak at this rally or was the mainstream media trying to downplay the importance of this rally?

Finally, Hillary's comments about undocumented workers were not moving to me. She is trying to appeal to white and black voters as well, who are influenced by the lies about illegal immigrants. She thinks she has the Hispanic vote in the bag and needs black and white supporters, probably those who had been supporting Edwards, in order to win this. She demonstrated to me last night; she's a straight up politician. She was very politically correct and made it seem like she was also pro-immigrant, but she just told voters what they wanted to hear. I am both disappointed and disillusioned with Senator Clinton.

Posted by: lanegrita_jg | February 1, 2008 2:32 PM | Report abuse

obama isn't anti-immigrant - he favors giving drivers licenses to illegal immigrants.

Posted by: jtorres138 | January 31, 2008 12:21 PM | Report abuse

Clayfeaw - great post!!! I fully agree with what you said.

Posted by: Nevadaandy | January 31, 2008 11:57 AM | Report abuse

plathman: Thanks for the closeup on Chicago politics. I'm in downstate Illinois, but those kinds of details are really fascinating. I wish more professional reporting was as nuanced.

Posted by: illinois2 | January 31, 2008 11:52 AM | Report abuse

Nothing in Obama's policy proposals sounds pro-brown to me. And his rhetoric is certainly not pro-Latino. Just compare Obama and Clinton's ideas on immigration reform. He'll be the most Republican Democrat we've seen in office.

Posted by: macarena | January 31, 2008 11:49 AM | Report abuse

Wasn't Chicago where Hillary Rodham was raised?

Posted by: JakeD | January 31, 2008 11:45 AM | Report abuse

As an Obama supporter, I find laplumelefirmament's comment detestable. About as detestable as the 1chris1's comment. Can we get a "report inappropriate comment" button, or at least ask the WP to screen comments like the ones pointed out? It's nuts, just nuts, that people on this and other comment sections believe that these comments will change anyone's mind. Let's be reasonable and decent to one another, and I'm sure our national political dialog will be better for it, regardless of who is nominated or elected president.

Posted by: darkestcloud | January 31, 2008 10:57 AM | Report abuse

I can say the same about Obama and the changes in his campaign. Look at his IVI IPO 1996 questionnaire.

Posted by: rmary65 | January 31, 2008 10:30 AM | Report abuse

All of the people that are being mean and nasty need to get a life.

Posted by: AFR_WOM | January 31, 2008 10:28 AM | Report abuse

Hillary's campaign has been though several changes over the last several months. First, Hillary's team portrayed her as the *inevitable* Democratic nominee. All other contenders were considered window dressing for the primary process and not to be taken with any serious consideration. This was coming though loud and clear via the U.S. corporate media and not just Hillary's people. Once it was apparent that Obama was a force that could not be dismissed so easily by the political machine that Clinton is a part of, Hillary turned to the *experience card*. She soon found that in the real world, the one outside the DC Beltway, her experience was not a whole lot more valuable than that of Obama. Let's not forget that her White House days with Bill as president have been archived and these achieves have been sealed by Bill Clinton until well after this election is over. Why??? I can't believe Hillary runs on her experience in the White House, yet the citizens are handed a big thick book which is of mostly redacted text, so to speak, of her White House years. With both the *inevitability* and *experience* cards played and trumped down, it was time for that big nasty card which most thought wouldn't come till Obama faced a GOP-Republican... the *Race card*. Bill Clinton and his fiends took on that task in SC. The Clinton's needed to make Obama the *Black candidate*, this is to marginalize Obama, to make Obama less than a complete candidate. Which is why I think, Ted Kennedy had had enough of the Clinton's dirty politics and decided to come out loudly and proudly for Obama. Hillary's newest card, is just appearing, the one she'll be played for the next few days is the *victim card*. Get ready for *Hillary the victim*... to be seen on all the cable news stations and assorted corporate media near you.

Posted by: dionc9 | January 31, 2008 10:21 AM | Report abuse

osama obama should be investigated together with his relatives in Kenya for perpetuating grave crimes against black people and christian churches in Kenya!

Burning of churches and black people is a henious crime and the whole osama obama family should be justly punished for it!

Posted by: 1chris1 | January 31, 2008 10:19 AM | Report abuse

osama obama and his well placed relatives in Kenya must answer for their atrocities against christians and black people in Kenya!

Burning churches and black people does not make one a presidential candidate!

A white arab that only uses a muslim name must be thoroughly investigated for his crimes against humanity!


Posted by: 1chris1 | January 31, 2008 10:18 AM | Report abuse

For Kennedy to say we need someone young and fresh why doesn't he move over.

No endorsements influence me, I know who is right for this country from day one and that is HILLARY.

Posted by: rmary65 | January 31, 2008 10:08 AM | Report abuse

How much did the Clinton people pay them like they paid Darrell Jackson in SC($100,000)..

Posted by: TennGurl | January 31, 2008 10:07 AM | Report abuse

danny solis has been a good alderman in the sense that he hasn't done anything particuarly distasteful. but i voted for Cuauhtémoc Morfín last year, mainly because of solis's ties to the daley machine. but this story muddles what's happening on the ground by comparing solis's and gutierrez's influence. gutierrez's congressional district is gerrymandered to include both pilsen (the mexican american neighborhood) and humboldt park (the puerto rican neighborhood). i'd be willing to bet that while some of the people in the 25th ward (Solis's ward) might go for clinton, those in billy ocasio's 26th ward (the other (puerto rican) part of gutierrez's congressional district) would go obama (dick durbin, one of obama's main surrogates, has close ties to that community).

the other thing about Solis's ward is how diverse it is. pilsen is a largely mexican american neighborhood, but solis's ward also includes chinatown and the University of Illinois at Chicago. pilsen is changing quickly as UIC creeps in buying up real estate, students move into cheap housing and artists migrate from the north side gentrified neighborhoods to cheaper studio space here. calling this "clinton's corner" of chicago just muddles the complexity of a neighborhood in flux. just like the polls don't necessarily indicate what people will do on election day, i'm not sure solis's influence will either.

Posted by: plathman | January 31, 2008 10:01 AM | Report abuse

You Americans don't know when you have a good thing going for you....Obama may be young and fresh...but isn't that better than old and stale ? and when old and stale Kennedy endorses young and fresh Obama then you have the best of both the old and young worlds....I only wish we'd had someone young and fresh and motivated for change in France for the last election then maybe we wouldn't have fallen for Sarkozys lies and self glorifying nonsense. If you don't want change or Obama then send him to us and we can vote him into our french government.
Don't throw away a good chance when you see for your coffee coloured
senator and let him have a go at changing what others have failed to change in the past. I just hope that if he gets in nobody shoots him...that would be like shooting both Kennedy and King at the same time.
I think there are many countries in the world that envy you Americans the chance to vote for change...elsewhere it's just politics business as usual no matter who you vote for.

Posted by: clayfeaw | January 31, 2008 9:58 AM | Report abuse

"You look at the pictures they post of her, her face is distorted. He always looks perfect."

I couldn't help but chuckle at that line...

Posted by: henni.ouahes | January 31, 2008 9:50 AM | Report abuse

Anti-immigrant. That's rich, considering Obama was (and is) the only Dem candidate to confirm his commitment to issuing drivers licenses to everyone. HRC, of course, ran as far away from that as she could once it proved unappealing in polling.

Posted by: cmss1 | January 31, 2008 9:35 AM | Report abuse



Posted by: laplumelefirmament | January 31, 2008 9:33 AM | Report abuse

Enero 29 de 2008 ARTURO TAFOYA
Hay un refran muy conocido que dice; el que muere por su propia mano la muerte le save a Gloria.
Esto es lo que los hispanos estan haciendo votando por traidores como bush y hilary Clinton.
Cuando bush nesesitaba los votos de los hispanos prometio tantas cosas
Pero cuando se hiso presidente nos dio la espalda y se holvido de nosotros
Ahora hilari se esta chupando los votos de los hispanos y no lo puedo creer
Que despues de que ella voto para que no les den licencias a los ilegales,
Tambien en 1996 ella y bill Clinton pasaron the Immigrant's Rights and Responsibilities act
Leyes que nos perjudican alos hispanos. Aqui mando una copia por favor leanla. Yo creo que devemos abrir los hojos y darnos cuenta que si nos unimos a los afroamericanos con Barack obama que nos ofrece ayudarnos a los hispanos podemos hacer un cambio especial mente cuando los kenedy estan con obama esta es la oportunidad para demostrar que SI SE PUEDE
Y que los negros y los hispanos si se pueden unir;




Hillary Clinton no respeta a nuestra gente los partidarios de Hillary Clinton fueron a corte para evitar que la gente que trabaja pueda votar este sábado, eso es vergonzoso. Los partidarios de Hillary Clinton quieren evitar que la gente que trabaja el sábado pueda votar en sus lugares de empleo. ¡Imperdonable! Hillary Clinton no tiene vergüenza.

Hillary Clinton no debería permitir que sus amigos ataquen el derecho de nuestra gente de votar este sábado. Es imperdonable! No hay respeto el senador Barack Obama esta defendiendo nuestro derecho de votar.

El senador Barack Obama quiere nuestros votos, el respeta nuestros votos, nuestra comunidad y a nuestra gente. El lema de la campaña de Barrack Obama es "sí se puede, si se puede". Vote por un presidente que nos respeta y respeta nuestro derecho de votar. Obama para presidente. Si se puede.

Pagada por UNITE HERE.

Posted by: laplumelefirmament | January 31, 2008 9:28 AM | Report abuse

Hilarious. Bill Clinton falls asleep at MLK celebration










Posted by: laplumelefirmament | January 31, 2008 9:27 AM | Report abuse

The Solis family must be hurting. They must have been expecting a big payoff from the Clintons. Sorry amigos. It is not happening. They seem angry and repulsive at Obama on personal terms. What a shame.

They should get over it. To say that Obama is anti immigrants shows how silly this family is. Obama is a son of an immigrant. They probably don't know it.

Posted by: | January 31, 2008 9:23 AM | Report abuse

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