Speaking on the grandest stage of the nation's largest Hispanic civil rights organization yesterday in Philadelphia, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) made no mention of presidential ambitions, but many said her message and delivery had the aura of a campaign speech.
Clinton touched on nearly every issue that was important to Hispanics, the nation's largest ethnic group and a crucial voting bloc. She said she wanted to make sure Hispanic children got a fair education, and that families had medical insurance to ward off health problems such as asthma and lead poisoning that affect kids. She also talked of supporting legislation that would make it easier for immigrants to send money back home, which Hispanics do at a rate of about $200 per month.
"You are doing your part to make sure that every child has a special place in the American dream," she said at the National Council of La Raza convention. "But I don't know if your government is doing its part right now to make your job easier."
A thunderous ovation followed, the first of many rounds of applause.
"To me it sounded like a campaign speech," said Nellie Moreno of Phoenix, who said she was surprised that Clinton did not talk about immigration, temporary-worker programs and the border with Mexico. "I was hoping to hear something," she said. America Jones of El Paso said she heard what she wanted. "I hope that she will run, whether it sounded like a campaign speech or not," she said.
Clinton's remarks followed those of Education Secretary Margaret Spellings, who also pitched to Hispanic parents, doing her part in the tug of war between the Republican and Democratic parties for Hispanic hearts and minds.
Spellings drew a spattering of applause that sounded like drizzle compared with Clinton's downpour. Last year, about 60 percent of Hispanic votes were for Democrats.