Obama and the DNC Target Hispanics in Swing States

Tuesday, July 29, 2008


Obama and the DNC Target Hispanics in Swing States

Barack Obama and the Democratic National Committee are expected to unveil a $20 million investment in Hispanic voter mobilization Tuesday that targets most major battleground states.

DNC Chairman Howard Dean said the sum is unprecedented for a presidential campaign and represents a show of Democratic confidence that Latino voters could prove pivotal in states including New Mexico and Michigan.

Although Republican rival John McCain represents Arizona, a state with a strong Hispanic presence, Dean cited a poll last week by the Pew Hispanic Center showing Obama's approval rating with registered Latino voters at 66 percent nationwide, compared with 23 percent for McCain.

"We need to cement that," Dean said of the Pew lead. "There's enormous potential in the Latino population."

Targets will include Florida; Western states such as Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico; and Ohio, Pennsylvania and Michigan, industrial battlegrounds with sizable Hispanic populations. The money will be spent on niche advertising and other outreach, along with mobilization efforts aimed at identifying, registering and turning out new Democratic voters.

Over the weekend, the campaign held a training session in Las Vegas to teach local organizers how to canvass Hispanic communities. A similar forum will be held soon in Florida, Dean said, and sessions in other states are in the planning stages.

The investment is intended to benefit other Democratic candidates as well, including high-profile House and Senate races in Colorado, New Mexico and Florida.

Last week's Pew poll suggested that Obama's support among Hispanics has climbed steadily since the primary season, when the increasingly influential voter group broke solidly for Hillary Clinton. But McCain also is competing aggressively for Hispanic support, and his campaign said a grass-roots effort is well underway.

"We've been doing all that," McCain spokeswoman Hessy Fernandez said of Obama's efforts.

The McCain campaign has zeroed in on a similar group of states, and the candidate will hit three of them this week: Nevada, Colorado and Florida. McCain is running Spanish-language radio, online and television ads and has hosted forums with Hispanic small-business owners, among other events.

Fernandez conceded that the Republican Party's poor standing with Hispanics, attributable partly to its stance on immigration, has harmed McCain. She said the challenge is to distinguish the candidate from the party, reminding voters that McCain's ties to the Hispanic community run deep. McCain has long advocated a middle ground on immigration, especially on the issue of illegal workers.

"It's an important distinction," Fernandez said. But "we're confident we can do very well among the Latino community," she said.

-- Shailagh Murray


McCain Visits Oil Field

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. -- John McCain dramatized his support for offshore oil drilling Monday by inspecting oil pumps in a brown, dusty field here far from the ocean.

Last week, Hurricane Dolly thwarted McCain in his efforts to visit an oil rig off the Louisiana coast. The chief attribute of the Red Ribbon Ranch oil field, where the senator met with representatives of California oil producers, appeared to be its proximity to the Seven Oaks Country Club, where he held a lunchtime fundraiser.

McCain and his wife, Cindy, looked at oil pumps that produce about 1,100 barrels a day, and he again criticized Obama as a "Dr. No" for opposing McCain's agenda of offshore drilling, expansion of nuclear power and a suspension of the federal gasoline tax to help combat the nation's energy woes.

Disputing assertions that any benefits from offshore drilling would be years in the making, McCain said that producers have told him "there are some instances within a matter of months they could be getting" oil. "In some cases, it would be a matter of a year, some cases it would take longer than that, depending on the location and whether you use existing rigs or have to install new rigs," he added.

"Offshore drilling is something we have to do. I'm sorry Senator Obama opposes it," McCain said. "He is the Dr. No of America's energy future."

The Obama campaign had responded before McCain's motorcade reached the country club.

"By handing out $4 billion in tax breaks to the biggest oil companies and proposing gimmicks like offshore drilling that won't produce a drop of oil for seven years, Senator McCain's energy plan fails to provide short-term relief to consumers or long-term independence from foreign oil," said campaign spokesman Hari Sevugan.

-- Robert Barnes


McCain Has 'Nick' Removed

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. -- John McCain had a small "nick" removed from his face Monday morning during a routine checkup with his dermatologist in Phoenix, but the Republican candidate said he is "sure, absolutely," that it is nothing serious.

Earlier in the day, a small round bandage had covered what a campaign aide described as a "spot" that had been excised from McCain's face. The senator from Arizona removed the bandage before briefly addressing reporters at an oil field here.

"By the way I, as I do every few months, visited my dermatologist this morning and she said I was doing fine," said McCain, who has checkups every three months. "Took a small little nick from my cheek as she does regularly, and that will be biopsied just to make sure that everything is fine."

McCain suffered from melanoma, a type of skin cancer in 2000 and had a growth and more than 30 lymph nodes removed, a procedure that has left a scar on the left side of his face. He had another bout in 2004, but doctors since have given him a clean bill of health.

McCain used the episode to urge Americans to wear sunscreen and to have any discoloration checked by a doctor. "Melanoma is a preventable occurrence," he said, adding that sun damage during youth often is the culprit. "That's the end of my lecture from the American Dermatology Association."

Michael Yardley, spokesman for the Mayo Clinic, issued a statement later in the day:

"This morning, as part of his commitment to monitor his dermatological health on a regular basis, Senator John McCain visited the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Arizona, for a routine examination. As a precaution, a biopsy was ordered of a very small area on Senator McCain's right cheek. This is a routine minor procedure."

-- Robert Barnes

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