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Richardson's 'TuTube' Efforts

Surveys suggest that Hillary Clinton polls best among Latino voters, and has higher name recognition among the growing voting bloc. But New Mexico governor Bill Richardson (D) is working hard to remind Latinos that he's one of them, even if he has a not-so-Spanish-sounding last name. He's reaching out to Latinos on YouTube (or maybe 'TuTube'?) by posting several videos of supporters (all of them Hispanic, most from his native New Mexico) singing the governor's praises.

"I don't want to be known as the Hispanic candidate, I want to be known as the American governor, who's very proud to be Hispanic. I'm not just trying to get Hispanic votes, I'm trying to get the votes of all Americans," Richardson told us back in April. Those comments came before Richardson's formal announcement in Los Angeles -- where he spent a good amount of time speaking in Spanish. And it came before these new videos of Latino supporters. Here's one example with Arizona State Sen. Steve Gallardo (D):

Richardson's biggest barrier to acceptance and understanding among Latinos may be his last name. His father was born in the U.S., and his mother is Mexican. The governor was born in Pasadena, Calif., but spent part of his childhood growing up in Mexico City. Though his name is standard "Anglo-American," people who meet the candidate usually soon realize he's fluent in Spanish, and looks like most Latinos. Richardson frequently calls Spanish-language radio shows, and appears on Spanish television to get his face out there, and exploit his Spanish-speaking skills.

Richardson's dual heritage is not unique in the United States today (the author of this blog post, for example, is half-Hispanic and bilingual, but has an Irish last name). But as a presidential candidate, Richardson's background gives him a unique set of advantages AND challenges in trying to relate to various voting blocs.

And as this video demonstrates, the governor, though he doesn't want to be pigeon-holed as the LATINO candidate, is vigorously courting Latino votes.

Richardson starts by saying in Spanish, "it's great to be here with my Hispanic family." He says later in the video, "You are my family. And today I'm asking for your support. But don't vote for me just because I'm Hispanic. Vote for me because I have the best program for this country. I can unite this country. ... Vote for me not because I'm one of you, although that helps a little, but because our community needs good models."

We'll see if his Latino strategy works. What do you think? Does posting clips of Latino supporters on a predominantly-English language site make sense? Will they make an impact? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

By Ed O'Keefe |  July 10, 2007; 9:11 AM ET Bill Richardson
Previous: Bill Clinton: Call Me 'First Laddie' | Next: PostTalk: Sen. Richard Durbin


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This approach to courting voters will probably be one of the few methods that gains Richardson any traction in the primaries. The leading candidates have not really tapped immigrant issues, and with the Latino community as large as it is, Richardson may appeal to them with his unique connection. He may not be able to parlay this connection into a substantial showing of support on other issues, but it probably will have at least some positive impact on his campaign.

Posted by: Chris Shepherd | July 10, 2007 3:42 PM

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