Bill Clinton Woos Hispanics
On Thursday, Channel 08 reported that Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) was a guest on the immensely popular Spanish radio program "PiolÃn por la MaÃ±ana," to speak about his support for Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.).
On Friday, former President Clinton was a guest on the same program, speaking with host Eddie "El PiolÃn" Sotelo to advocate for his wife, Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.).
Clinton indulged his audience when prompted about the influence of the Hispanic vote, saying it will "determine the nominee of the Democratic Party and the next president of the United States." In states with large Hispanic populations that have already voted, Hispanics backed Clinton by about 2 to 1. The Hispanic vote, which varies widely in terms of geographic location, nationality and values, will be a key demographic casting ballots in several of the 24 states voting on Feb. 5.
The former president said that his wife's greatest assest is "a lifelong compassion for all kinds of people and the abilty to turn that compassion into action that makes other peoples' lives better." Bill Clinton went on emphasize Sen. Clinton's work on behalf of the Hispanic community, beginning as a law student registering voters among underrepresented Hispanic and African-American populations and continuing through her service in the U.S. Senate, where he said his wife had advocated for comprehensive immigration reform since 2004.
"She was passionately involved with [immigration reform] as nearly as I can tell before anyone else running," Clinton said.
The potential for immigration policy reform under a new administration is of particular interest to Sotelo, who entered the country illegally, working low-wage jobs and collecting aluminum cans for recycling before he earning his green card. Bill Clinton described his wife's legislative agenda on this issue as one that keeps families together through support of measures such as the DREAM Act, which would allow high school students who are illegal immigrants and want to attend college or enlist in the military a route to eligibility for legal status and to obtaining loans. He said she also wants to strengthen border control for national security, provide a path to citizenship and immediate legal status to undocumented immigrants who register -- and to set up a process for legalizing the status of seasonal agricultural workers, a policy he called "balanced and fair and humane."
When asked about his influence if he returns to the White House, the former president said, "It will be [Hillary's] office, and she'll make all the decisions."
Clinton was pushed to explain how his wife could succeed in the immigration policy overhaul when the current administration has failed. He said that while President Bush faces low approval ratings, encouraging members of his own party to increasingly break with him, while Sen. Clinton, he argued, would have the ability to reach out to members of Congress in both parties.
At the end of the program, Sotelo told his listeners enthusiastically that Sen. Clinton invited him to broadcast a show from the White House.
"I don't make many commitments on her behalf, but she'll do a broadcast for you," the former president said.
You can listen to the entire program here.
-- Ilene Rosenblum
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