Why Vote for Obama? Let's Go to the Video Tape
Imagine a Spanish-language TV commercial featuring Mitt Romney and Rick Perry accusing each other of being too weak on immigration or a radio spot featuring Herman Cain "joking" about building an electrified border fence that could kill people trying to enter the country illegally. Envision a video clip of Newt Gingrich answering every immigration question by vowing to make English the official language of government. Picture Rick Santorum arguing that all ethnic groups must dissolve into the American melting pot, or Michele Bachmann waging war on the U.S.-born children of undocumented immigrants. How about clips of Ron Paul's libertarian insensitivity on practically every issue that affects Latinos?
What about a campaign commercial featuring all of their improper and derogatory uses of the term "illegals" to describe illegal immigrants?
The more we watch the Republican presidential candidates campaign against each other, the more we see how easy it will be for President Barack Obama to win the overwhelming majority of the Hispanic vote in 2012.
Apparently, the president knows it, too. Last week, Obama acknowledged that Republicans are giving him campaign video clips on a silver platter.
"We may just run clips of the Republican debates verbatim," Obama told a group of Hispanic journalists at the White House. "We won't even comment on them. We'll just run those in a loop on Univision and Telemundo, and people can make up their own minds."
You see how Obama has failed to deliver on his 2008 campaign promise to fix our broken immigration system, how the Latino unemployment rate is at 11.4 percent, and how the foreclosure epidemic has been devastating in the Hispanic community. Then, you have to wonder how the president could possibly re-conquer the 67 percent of Latinos who voted for him in 2008.
But when you listen to his potential opponents, you hear their repulsive demagoguery on immigration, their xenophobia mongering, their cheap pandering to right-wing extremists, and you have to wonder why any Latino would vote for a Republican for president. We would have to be masochists!
And that's why Obama seems confident that — at least in the Hispanic community — his campaign will be able to overcome his failures on immigration, unemployment and the economy. After all, his failures on these issues are mostly based on the obstacles the Republicans keep placing in his way, and he intends to make Latinos see this.
"I don't think it requires us to go negative in the sense of us running a bunch of ads that are false or character assassinations," Obama said of the campaign he is planning to launch in the Spanish-language media. "It will be based on facts."
During his 45-minute meeting with Latino journalists, Obama reportedly vowed to continue fighting for comprehensive immigration reform, jobs, health care, student loans and many other components of the Democratic Party platform he believes would benefit U.S. Latinos.
"That's not to say the Latino community is going to think my administration is perfect," Obama said.
He is obviously going to ask the Latino voters to contrast his record with the draconian remarks of whoever turns out to be the GOP nominee. One can just imagine the fun Obama campaign strategists must be having while choosing among the wide variety of insensitive, bordering on racist, remarks spewed by the GOP presidential contenders this year.
If they follow Sen. Harry Reid's re-election campaign as a model, if the Nevada approach to defeating hate-mongering politicians is applied on a national level, Obama has a good chance of winning not only Nevada, but Florida, Colorado, New Mexico, South Carolina and other vital swing states where Latino voters can make a huge difference.
In 2010, Reid seemed to be against the ropes with Latino voters. The Senate majority leader also had promised to fix our broken immigration system and Latino voters were getting ready to punish him for his failures. Yet when his Republican challenger, Tea Party demagogue Sharron Angle, mounted one of the most vicious anti-Hispanic campaigns in U.S. history, Reid won the election simply by telling Latinos to consider the alternative.
In those swing states where Latinos can make a huge difference, obviously, this is how the Obama team expects to win the president's re-election.
But even before Democratic commercials start reminding Latinos of all the GOP hate-mongering we have endured recently, Obama already is doing as well as he did in 2008 — at least among those Latinos who are panning to vote.
Latino voters prefer Obama 67 to 24 percent over Romney; 65 to 22 percent over Cain; and 68 to 21 percent over Perry, according to a recent Univision News/Latino Decisions poll.
Yet, while Obama may not need to worry about getting an overwhelming majority of the votes that will be cast by Latinos in 2012, he should be concerned about the number of Latinos who will stay home on Election Day. The poll also found that more than half of Latino voters — 53 percent — are less excited about Obama than they were in 2008.
And the president knows that, too!
"I think that there is no way to duplicate the atmosphere in 2008, because we've gone through now three years of very difficult economic times and nobody's been more impacted by that than the Latino community," Obama said. "So understandably, there are going to be frustrations. People will be saying to themselves, 'I've been out of work for a year-and-a-half, it's hard to get excited about any election, if you're spending all your time thinking about how you're going to pay the rent or buy groceries.'"
Obama knows he needs to re-energize and mobilize Latino voters and that given the failures of his administration, his only recourse is to follow the Reid game plan. Whenever Latinos question his accomplishments on their behalf, he will simply ask them to consider the alternative.
I can just hear the president addressing Latinos through commercial spots and sounding like a sportscaster. He will be crying out, "Let's go to the videotape" of the Republican debates, and the highlights he will show may just be enough to get him re-elected.
To find out more about Miguel Perez and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
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