The Latino Vote Is Going to Require More Than Chips and Salsa


On Thursday, July 26, a Latinos with Obama “Chips and Salsa” event at his campaign office in Davenport, Iowa was held and being the largest English-Spanish newspaper in the state of Iowa, we went to cover this meeting. Eight people were present at the beginning including five staff members for the U.S. Senator from Ill. who is running for president with a grassroots level campaign.  We were not there long enough to see the final turnout since we were asked to leave because the Obama workers in Davenport did not want the event covered in the media.  In a telephone interview with LULAC’s Iowa state director
Gilbert “G.G.” Sierra, who was present at the meeting, he said that the event was well informed.
“Obama wants to get in contact with the Hispanics in Scott County because it could make the difference in the Obama campaign coming up,” he said.
As a member of a non for profit organization, Sierra made it very clear that he is still keeping his options open for who he likes for president.
We were also told that the group will have biweekly meetings. To be fair, the Obama spokesman who asked us to leave said that his intentions were to invite the owner of Hola America to attend but not to cover the event.  We also understand that they probably discussed some campaign strategies that were not meant to be published.
But what kind of strategy asks the Hispanic media to leave after they were told of such an event?  The message was not clear as to who should be attending and why.  I guess a better way to handle the situation would have been to ask us not to report on the information given but have us stay and give our input.
What is clear is that there is a lack of sensibility from political campaigns towards the Latino voters.  What kind of reaching out to the Latinos are some of these campaigns doing?  The United States Hispanic Leadership Institute in Chicago conducts yearly workshops on various aspects of the Latino voters.  There are thousands of Latino students that have attended these workshops and would make a perfect addition to any campaign if they plan on reaching out to Latinos.  They are thought to network and are given motivational speeches from prominent Latino leaders that motivate many to get involved.  Have they reached out to the colleges and community organizations?  They should be.  And they should be including Latino college students in their campaigns if they are serious about the Latino vote.
In the marches of 2006 there were a lot of young people who wanted to do more.  They were exercising their civil duties.  They wanted to get involved and were waiting for someone to reach out for them. Not a handful of young Latinos, but thousands in this community alone.  Did anyone reach out to them?
Why do some politicians keep on failing to reach these numbers?  Do they really want to reach out or do they just want to make it seem like they are reaching out to them?  Not only Obama, but all the candidates; if they want to be more involved in the Latino community they need to get Latinos from the community not only as volunteers but as paid staff members.
There are also many others that have been involved in voter registration drives and have volunteered in many community organizations and events.  They are out there and campaigns should be seeking them out.
Now in the case of some Obama staff members, to win over the Latino vote in Iowa and everywhere else it will take a lot more than chips and salsa.  Is it us or is it a little condescending?  You decide.

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