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White House Cheat Sheet: Obama's Latino Courtship



Labor Secretary Hilda Solis is one of the leaders of the Obama Administration's aggressive outreach to Hispanics. Photo by John Gress of Reuters.

Today's Spanish-language town hall meeting hosted by Labor Secretary Hilda Solis is the latest evidence of the White House's active courtship of Latinos -- the nation's largest minority group and a (still) sleeping giant in electoral politics.

The town hall, which will be anchored by Univision's Edna Schmidt and will focus on the swine flu outbreak, is being billed by the White House as "an unprecedented effort to engage our nation's largest minority group."

Luis Miranda, director of Hispanic media for the White House, said outreach to Latinos has been a "priority" for Obama.

The town hall comes several weeks after Obama traveled to Trinidad & Tobago to attend the Summit of the Americas -- a major geopolitical event in the Spanish speaking world -- and staged the first bilingual press briefing in White House history. Obama has also granted one-on-one interviews to Univision anchors Maria Elena Salinas and Jorge Ramos in the days since being elected president.

The biggest test of Obama's commitment to the Latino community, however, may well come over the next few months as he chooses the next Supreme Court justice and decides how hard to push a comprehensive immigration reform proposal -- both issues of critical importance to the Hispanic community.

"So far so good, said Gil Meneses, a Democratic consultant, of the Obama administration's effort at Latino outreach. "All eyes on immigration reform and of course, [Supreme Court] nominee. That will be a milestone for Latino community"

Already a number of Latino legal groups have been making the case for Obama to make history by naming the first Hispanic American to the Supreme Court, filling an opening caused by Justice David Souter's retirement from the bench.

"I can think of no better moment for him to nominate the Supreme Court's first Hispanic and someone who will uphold our Constitution's promise of equal justice and freedom for all," said Henry Solano, president and general counsel of the Mexican America Legal Defense & Education Fund (MALDEF).

Several Hispanics appear to be under active consideration including 2nd District Court of Appeals judge Sonia Sotomayor who isregarded by many as the current frontrunner for the nomination.

As for immigration reform, there are conflicting reports of how high a priority it is for the president.

The New York Times reported in April that Obama was ready to put his political capital behind efforts to overhaul the immigration system but White House aides cautioned that nothing had changed from the president's initial stance that immigration reform was one of a handful of priorities for the administration.

Immigration reform is a dicey political issue as it is of tremendous importance to the Latino community but is viewed far more skeptically by non-Hispanic voters -- particularly those living in Rust Belt states where the loss of blue-collar jobs is blamed -- broadly -- on America's immigration policies. (The Post's E.J. Dionne wrote a terrific column on the political perils of immigration reform earlier this week.)

What is beyond dispute is that the Latino vote is a critical piece of both parties' electoral math in future national elections.

In 2004 then President George W. Bush stunned the political world by winning 44 percent of the Hispanic vote, repeating the successes he had demonstrated in courting this community as the governor of Texas.

Four years later, however, President Obama crushed Sen. John McCain among Hispanics -- 67 percent to 31 percent -- despite the fact that Obama had struggled to win over Latino voters during his prolonged primary fight against then Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Obama is working to consolidate his demonstrated strength in the Hispanic community in advance of his 2012 reelection race. But, how he handles his Supreme Court nominee and immigration reform will do much to inform how he -- and Democrats more generally -- are perceived in Latino circles in coming years.

What To Watch For:

Friday's Fix Picks: Let the official stalking of Connie Britton and Kyle Chandler begin!

1. Stress Tests 101.
2. Nancy Pelosi knew about harsh interrogations back in 2002.
3. A look at the lopsided world of outside groups through the lens of the Supreme Court fight.
4. Manny being Manny.
5. Twitter is not for sale.

Perry Polling Suggests Tight Race: An internal poll conducted for Gov. Rick Perry and obtained by the Fix shows him trailing Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison in a hypothetical 2010 primary race but provides other evidence that seems to suggest voters would rather the senator stay in Washington. Hutchison led Perry 45 percent to 39 percent in the Baselice & Associates survey but showed strong opposition (89 percent) to the bank bailout that Hutchison voted for last year. And, fully two-thirds of those Republicans polled said they would prefer Hutchison stay in the Senate and "keep her seniority" while just 23 percent said they preferred to see her return to Texas to run for governor. The aim of the poll is relatively clear -- to show Hutchison that a clear blueprint exists to beat her and that she would be better off staying in the Senate. Every indication we have, however, is that KBH is committed to running for governor in 2010 and, therefore, it's unlikely that any poll -- particularly one in which she is ahead -- will dissuade her.

Space For Fisher: On the heels of new polling showing him beating former representative Rob Portman (R) by double digits, Lt Gov. Lee Fisher (D) secured the endorsement of Rep. Zack Space (D) for his Senate campaign. "I know that as our next U.S. Senator, [Fisher] will continue to be a leader on behalf of all Ohioans," said Space about his decision to back Fisher. Space has -- somewhat surprisingly -- emerged as a Democratic power broker in Ohio since his election to the House in 2006 and was mentioned as a potential Senate candidate in his own right earlier this year. Fisher is headed toward a primary fight with Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner among others. Portman has cleared the Republican field for himself.

Gitcho to RNC: Gail Gitcho, who has been handling press for former Minnesota senator Norm Coleman during that state's interminably long election contest, has been hired as the new press secretary at the Republican National Committee. Gitcho, who like many of the Fix in-laws grew up in San Antonio, spent the early days of the 2008 cycle as press operative for former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney's presidential campaign before serving as Mid-Atlantic regional communications director for Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) in the general election. "I am looking forward to working for Chairman Steele and the RNC committee members to advance the Republican message and work to win the upcoming elections," said Gitcho.

Close Up at the Correspondents Dinner: Want an up close and personal view of tomorrow night's White House Correspondents Association Dinner but don't have a ticket? Well, there's always C-SPAN (the Fix's favorite network), which will be broadcasting the entire show starting at 8 p.m. ET. C-SPAN is also offering a live video stream on their Web site -- starting at 6 p.m. -- of the Red Carpet arrivals! (No, the Fix will not be one of them. We are more of a "slip in the side door" type.) Want EVEN MORE on the Correspondents Dinner? The Fix will be twittering -- whenever the spotty cell coverage in the ballroom at the Hilton allows it -- at "@TheFix." Sign up to follow us today! Before it's too late!

Best iPhone Apps: Happy weekend -- Phoneflix, Sportacular, and Shazam.

Say What?: "We didn't act like we all are each other's buddies. We didn't act like we're going to hang out tonight and have dinner." -- Rev. Al Sharpton on his meeting with President Obama, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (Ga.) in an interview with CNN's Wolf Blitzer.

By Chris Cillizza  |  May 8, 2009; 5:32 AM ET
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Comments

I'm tired of politicians thinking that speaking spanish is the way to the Latino community. Most of us speak English and grew up/ were born here. You want to do something good for the Latino community: appoint more of us to the administration. Make sure we are at the table when decisions are being made.

Posted by: kdumas1 | May 10, 2009 9:55 PM | Report abuse

I am appalled but not surprised that Hispanics are still being catered to in my country. After all, they are charactierized as third world with pity, not contempt for allowing the situation to continue in their respective countries for decades, all the while blaming the US for their failures rather than themselves, and for being rasist enough to expect them to obey the laws that the rest of the world obeys. Once here, they attempt to say that we need them and order us to change our laws to suit them, and we have some brilliant representatives who permit themselves to be dictated to. Our Congress has been elected to represent Americans and enforce our laws, not cater to a bunch of criminals who are too lazy to stand up for themselves. I wonder why they do not travel further south instead of coming here, is it because they will be shot on site?

Posted by: mypuppy | May 9, 2009 2:32 PM | Report abuse

Reform may be the most abused word among politicians, pundits, policymakers and lobbyists. Immigration "reform" would reward millions who broke the laws of this country, by giving them amnesty, as occurred during the Reagan presidency and will likely repeat itself endlessly over the next twenty or so years.

Education "reform" to some requries eliminating teacher tenure, which itself was originally considered a reform to try to prevent administrators from arbitarily punishing certain teachers, especially those active in unions. Tax "reform" to many conservatives is lowering taxes for the rich, by creating a flat tax.

Politicians routinely use or misuse terms such as "reform," "responsibility," "democracy," etc. without hardly anyone in the media noticing.

Posted by: Aprogressiveindependent | May 8, 2009 9:58 PM | Report abuse

I liked President Obama's unannounced drop-by at the Latino town hall re the pandemic flu today.

It was a gracious act, and politically, it was an especially good idea for him to do that on the same day that Louis Caldera had to resign over the Air Force One flyover.

Posted by: fairfaxvoter | May 8, 2009 5:30 PM | Report abuse

Please, please, please stop Twittering now! It is a mindless waste of time

Posted by: kdemko | May 8, 2009 5:29 PM | Report abuse

There is already an over-representation of Latino's in government now. What is lacking is *any* representation of Naive American's. No other group in this nations history has been subjected to as much discrimination, ongoing poverty, and outright slaughter by this government, the Spanish before them, the English, the Russian's and just about everyone else. Ye, for all of that, most Native American's remain patriots. In terms of population, we are the most represented group of soldiers. We are nominally Democrats, moderate to liberal, and most Native American's actually support the Bill of Rights, including the Second Amendment. Furthermore, this land was our FIRST, you are all merely interlopers, conquerers, or squatters. Give *US* our due, give us a place in government, give us the next Supreme Court appointment. We've earned it.

Posted by: mibrooks27 | May 8, 2009 5:08 PM | Report abuse

While Bozo Obama and the Democrap Socialists are kow-towing to Hispanics to buy their votes, his Supreme Court Justice replacement for Souter probably won't be a Hispanic. It'll be a black far-left Marxist as he is.

Posted by: armpeg | May 8, 2009 3:17 PM | Report abuse

There may be a subtle racism (in the Latin community) available for exploitation by a GOP candidate.. don't think the Axelrods of the world haven't researched this.

Posted by: newbeeboy | May 8, 2009 3:16 PM | Report abuse

Looks like all the Communists, Facists, and Marxists, who dishonestly label themselves liberals and Democrats, on this blog, just hate to be told the truth--not that I care what these aholes think. It figures!

Posted by: armpeg | May 8, 2009 3:02 PM | Report abuse

"I heard that Sotomayor was a lazy and hot-tempered."


I heard that JakeD was a misinformed layabout.

Posted by: bsimon1 | May 8, 2009 2:48 PM | Report abuse

JakeD wrote, "I heard that Sotomayor was a lazy and hot-tempered."

Hey, it's not every day that Jake quotes The New Republic (directly or indirectly).

Posted by: douglaslbarber | May 8, 2009 2:41 PM | Report abuse

armpeg wrote, "The Bozo Obama and the Democrap Socialists are courting Hispanics alright, since every new legal or illegal Hispanic is a potential Democrap Socialist voter."

Well, now that you've convinced me that you're a reasonable and dispassionate analyst of the matter under consideration I'll be sure to read the rest of your post....IN MY NEXT LIFE. Not enough time in this one, sorry. :)

Posted by: douglaslbarber | May 8, 2009 2:32 PM | Report abuse

"and "A Chicken in every pot","

I know you're just a silly little troll, but I couldn't help but notice this part of your inane rambling...

The term "A Chicken in Every Pot (and a car in every garage)" was actually a campaign slogan of Herbert Hoover, the 31st President of the United States...

...Herbert Hoover was a Republican.

Posted by: VTDuffman | May 8, 2009 2:32 PM | Report abuse

The Bozo Obama and the Democrap Socialists are courting Hispanics alright, since every new legal or illegal Hispanic is a potential Democrap Socialist voter. It's the reason Bozo Obama and the Democrap Socialists are practically all against any way of stopping the illegals from streaming over our Southern border. Their primary interest is to build up their parties political strenght with ever more voters, and they don't care about what's in America's interests. The overwhelming number of these illegals are dirt-poor, and they're ideas of governing is right out of the Communist's playbook. They all believe in the Karl Marx's mantra's of "From each according to his ability, to each according to his need", and "A Chicken in every pot", and this is what they'll get with a Democrap Socialist Party in control. The fact is that while all these Obamanistas and Democrap Socialists put on a liberal, progressive, or Democrat mantel, they're all Communists, Facists, and Socialists depending on degree of fanaticism. These million of illegal immigrants fit right in with Bozo Obama's and the Democrap Socialist Parties plans to turn our country into another "Workers Paradise", which is exactly what's been happening with the election of a Marxist, and the reigns of government given a congress controlled by the Democrap Socialists. Four years of this form of governing, with a Marxist Obama and the Democrap Socialists in control, you can forget about our Constitution, Bill of Rights, and any freedoms we still have, as they nationalize the Banks, Mortgage and Insurance Companies, private industries like the auto companies, the health care companies, the nations educational system, and all the rest.
When one of our founding fathers Ben Franklin was asked what kind of government we've gotten back in 1776, he reportedly said "a Representative Republic, IF YOU CAN KEEP IT". With the election of a Marxist Barack Obama and a congress now totally controlled by the Socialist/ Communists who laughably all call themselves 'Democrats', it's the beginning of the end. We have lost it.

Posted by: armpeg | May 8, 2009 2:20 PM | Report abuse

"As an employers' lawyer, I say enforcement begins with protecting employers who in good faith based on the info provided to them from SSA terminate employees with ss#s that do not ck out."

My wife, who works in HR, struggles with this regularly. SS Admin tells her 'if they have a number, hire them'. Occasionally they've come back and said a number is suspicious; when she asks the employee for more documentation, they typically stop showing up for work. This has happened with employees who've been on payroll for years.

Posted by: bsimon1 | May 8, 2009 1:04 PM | Report abuse


i guess Rev Al didn't kick back and have a beer, eh?


this the 1st white house correspondent's dinner under President Obama....
be there or be square

Posted by: TheBabeNemo | May 8, 2009 12:33 PM | Report abuse

confirmation hearing is the keyword.

Posted by: TheBabeNemo | May 8, 2009 12:13 PM | Report abuse

Must agree with my buddy BradCPA. KBH wins among Rs and storms among indies and pulls conservative Ds.

Rs do want her to stay in DC as Sen-for-life-KBH
but I am certain that KBH wants to be in Austin for personal reasons and that trumps being in DC forever.

bsimon, we only have outlines of the Prez's proposal on illegal immigration, I agree. It looks more like McC's plan than RWR's amnesty, but it still looks like smoke and moirrors to me. I can tell you that it is actually not a slam dunk for an employer to fire an undoc. That situation must be exchanged for one in which SSA and DHlS are on board with each other. A system in which there was really a positive onus on employers to dismiss employees without valid ss#s would be a place to begin. Most persons who are not employers or employers' lawyers in the SW do not realize that if an employer terminates an employee for a false ss# and the SSA gave wrong info the employer is completely liable.

As an employers' lawyer, I say enforcement begins with protecting employers who in good faith based on the info provided to them from SSA terminate employees with ss#s that do not ck out.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | May 8, 2009 11:57 AM | Report abuse

We don't need a Latino on the court. Jeez we have only had one black person, which was historic until we got Thomas.

Obama needs to put another black person on the court.

Posted by: wlockhar | May 8, 2009 11:51 AM | Report abuse

I heard that Sotomayor was a lazy and hot-tempered.

Posted by: JakeD | May 8, 2009 11:51 AM | Report abuse

Wow, once again, the Post's favorite intern, Chris Cillizza, comes out with TMZ-style gossip, intended to pass for "news" that now includes a YouTube clip of himself -- because it's all about YOU Cillizza! Please start twittering, we can't get enough of you, you big talented journalistic rock star!

Where is a discussion of the law in here? Appointing a Supreme Court justice is apparently solely about politics and constituencies. Why not pick up the phone and get a quote or two on how recent Supreme Court cases might have been affected had a swing vote been cast differently? And how a Latino judge's life experience might affect such a vote?

It's called research. Journalists used to do it all the time. Now they seem to mainly just want to get on television, or, failing that, they'll post YouTube videos.

Posted by: losthorizon10 | May 8, 2009 10:51 AM | Report abuse

TEAM OBAMA: Bush-Cheney spawned HOMELAND TORTURE IS STILL HAPPENING. HIDING IN PLAIN SIGHT.

• What have your Bush holdovers told you about this multi-agency coordinated security/military/intel action -- known to insiders as "the program"?


A nationwide "extrajudicial punishment matrix" has made a mockery of the judicial system, and civil and human rights in America -- but the Obama administration has yet to dismantle this clear and present danger to democracy.

Bush-Cheney- spawned torture is NOT just a foreign affair.

The extra-legal network it created or expanded enables citizen vigilantes affiliated with federally-funded volunteer community policing and public safety groups to stalk, harass, terrorize -- and YES, torture.

With microwave radiation "directed energy weapons" -- apparently OK'ed for use on detainees AND U.S. citizens by still-secret Bush "torture memos."

This "American Gestapo" has co-opted and corrupted local law enforcement nationwide -- a grassroots-based authoritarian apparatus "hiding in plain sight."

And a related array of secret federal "programs of personal financial destruction" decimates the finances of "targeted" persons and their families -- who are denied due process of law as their personal wealth is slowly expropriated.

Please, White House staff, read this. Your Bush holdovers already know all about it.

What have they told YOU?


http://nowpublic.com/world/gestapo-usa-govt-funded-vigilante-network-terrorizes-america
http://nowpublic.com/world/bush-torture-memos-oked-radiation-weapon-use-americans-too

OR (if links are corrupted / disabled):

http://NowPublic.com/scrivener

Posted by: scrivener50 | May 8, 2009 10:46 AM | Report abuse

if obama and the dems spend their political capital and allow the illegals to stay in the country i will be spending my political capital each and every november against them..ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS ARE DESTROYING JOB OPPORTUNITY FOR AMERICANS..WAGES SHOULD RISE IF THEY ARE NOT HIGH ENOUGH TO ATTRACT EMPLOYEES..THE INTRODUCTION INTO THE WAGE AND PRICE SYSTEM OF ILLEGALS STOPS THIS FROM HAPPENING..if the dems want to give out amnesty to the illegals, then come up with a system in which they first sign up and are deported, and then await legal entry while they are being vetted security-wise..make the employers pay for this..

Posted by: w04equals666 | May 8, 2009 9:54 AM | Report abuse

When people say that hispanics are the largest minority population are they talking about legal immigrants or are they counting the illegals which number between 15 and 25 million? In reference to the hispanic vote I wonder how many votes were not legitimate.You do not have to prove legal presence to vote in our country although it should be an requirement! Voting is one of the greatest privileges we have in the USA but it's value is decreased when non-citizens vote like they have a right too.This illegal voting could cause the wrong person to be elected!

Posted by: Klimax | May 8, 2009 9:51 AM | Report abuse

postisarag writes
""comprehensive immigration reform" is just a euphemism for amnesty for illegal aliens."


That was the Reagan variation. Its unclear whether the Obama administration shares that view.

Posted by: bsimon1 | May 8, 2009 9:40 AM | Report abuse

"comprehensive immigration reform" is just a euphemism for amnesty for illegal aliens.

Posted by: postisarag | May 8, 2009 8:48 AM | Report abuse

The "Grand Slam" would be a Latina Lesbian on the Court.

Posted by: JakeD | May 8, 2009 8:38 AM | Report abuse

Chris - On the KBH vs Rick Perry poll did it just poll Republicans? If it was I would add about 10% KBH ..... Every moderate Democrat I know is planning to vote in the Republican Primary to get rid of Perry. KBH is conservative but reasonable.

Posted by: bradcpa | May 8, 2009 8:23 AM | Report abuse

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