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Pollster: Hispanic Vote Holding Steady…Key For Bush, Kerry…Jeb Bush Urges Hispanics To Re-Elect President

Pollster: Hispanic Vote Holding Steady

Associated Press

March 26, 2004
Copyright © 2004 Associated Press. All rights reserved.

WASHINGTON - A leading Democratic pollster recently reassured his party that its majority share of the Hispanic vote is holding steady as the presidential campaign heats up. But some in the party aren't so sure.

Some Hispanic Democrats are afraid Republicans, who have spent months preparing and have millions to spend, could gain ground in several key states as the GOP aims to boost President Bush's Hispanic support to at least 40 percent. He got 35 percent of that vote in 2000.

"What I'm worried about is excessive Republican advertising among Hispanics without an appropriate response," said New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, a Democrat who is Hispanic. "I have nightmares these ads might penetrate the five-point spread."

The Bush-Cheney re-election campaign started its Hispanic effort last August, has Hispanic teams in 30 states and plans an aggressive drive to recruit Hispanic voters face to face and through ads.

The campaign of John Kerry, Bush's Democratic rival, also plans an aggressive pursuit of the Hispanic vote, but the Massachusetts senator has yet to pick an Hispanic outreach coordinator.

Candidates need to appeal to Hispanics on a broader range of issues than in the past - such as home ownership, education and small-business ownership - not just immigration and civil rights, Richardson said.

Hispanics are the fastest growing minority group in the country, numbering 35.3 million in 2000 and projected to increase at the rate of about 1.2 million a year over the next decade.

Census figures show about 21 million voting age Hispanics in 2000, slightly more than one-fourth of whom said they voted in that year's presidential election.

A recent poll by Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg found Bush's support among Hispanics at 34 percent.

Matthew Dowd, a strategist and pollster for Bush's re-election campaign, pegged it at closer to 40 percent currently. In 1996, Republican Bob Dole got the support of 21 percent of Hispanics.

"The gains in 2000 were personal. They were Bush's gains, not the Republican Party's," said Sergio Bendixen, a Democratic pollster.

Bush remains relatively popular with Hispanics. About half view him favorably, while about one-fourth view him unfavorably, according to a recent National Annenberg Election Survey.

Sharon Castillo, who works on Hispanic outreach for the Bush-Cheney campaign, said Bush's efforts to change immigration laws and his policies on national security, education and taxes are popular with Hispanics.

As Republicans and Democrats wrestle for the Hispanic vote, the number of Hispanic independents is growing, said Roberto Deposada, a former Republican National Committee organizer.

Analysts put the number of swing voters between 10 percent and 25 percent.

Alvaro Cifuentes, chairman of the Democratic Hispanic Caucus, said Democrats will have their hands full because the president "has had the podium for four years and can only build on what he had." But he said Democrats can do well if they take bold positions on issues Hispanics care about.

Both parties are looking closely at Arizona, Colorado, Florida, New Mexico and Nevada as states where the Hispanic vote could be pivotal in November. Bush was headed to Albuquerque and Phoenix on Friday to discuss home ownership.

Republicans are heartened by the 2002 results in Florida, where Gov. Jeb Bush was re-elected with a solid majority of the Hispanic vote, and in New York, where Gov. George Pataki got between 40 percent and 50 percent of the vote.

In California, Republican gubernatorial candidates Arnold Schwarzenegger and Tom McClintock together got 41 percent of the Hispanic vote running against an Hispanic Democrat in the state's recall election last fall.

Democrats claim the issues are on their side, and say many Hispanics struggling under the Bush economy want better funding for education and health care.

"Our challenge," said Rep. Robert Menendez of New Jersey, "is to reaffirm our history with Hispanics. And we have to wrap the president in his own record."

EDITOR'S NOTE: Will Lester covers polling and politics for The Associated Press.

Hispanic Votes Key For Bush, Kerry

Both say the other ignores minority


April 10, 2004
Copyright © 2004
Houston Chronicle Washington Bureau. All rights reserved.

Copyright 2004 Houston Chronicle Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON -- Angling for a piece of the nation's fastest-growing minority vote, both presidential campaigns charged the other was neglecting Hispanics.

Former Housing Secretary Henry Cisneros, who is leading the Hispanic outreach effort for Democratic presidential contender John Kerry, said Friday that President Bush has done little to help this minority group.

The criticism from the former mayor of San Antonio comes as the Bush campaign is set Monday to announce its national Hispanic steering committee at a rally in Orlando led by Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, the president's brother.

Bush campaign spokesman Danny Diaz said that during his almost two decade Senate career, Kerry has sponsored few pieces of legislation that directly benefit Hispanics.

Cisneros and other Kerry allies claimed that Bush shortchanged Hispanics by failing to provide affordable health care, cutting college grants and loans and presiding over an economy that has lost manufacturing jobs.

Both the Bush and Kerry campaigns are expected to heavily target Hispanic voters, who could be pivotal in such battleground states as New Mexico, Arizona and Florida.

Both as Texas governor and as president, Bush has made an effort to woo Hispanic voters. Earlier this year the president proposed a guest worker program that would allow illegal immigrants to work in this country for a minimum of three years.

A poll released this week by Zogby International found that Bush's position with Hispanics has remained largely unchanged since the 2000 election, when he received about 35 percent of the Hispanic vote.

The survey of 1,000 likely Hispanic voters found that in a match-up with Kerry, Bush would garner 33 percent support and the Massachusetts senator 58 percent.

Forty-three percent of Hispanics rated Bush's job performance as excellent or good while 58 percent rated it fair or poor.

Poll director John Zogby said that while Bush has not made dramatic inroads with Hispanics, he still has the potential to increase support, particularly in the South and among born-again Protestant Hispanics.

Kerry, he said, also has his work cut out for him, as he is still not getting as much support among Hispanics as Democrat Al Gore did in 2000.

Diaz said Bush's Hispanic steering committee will have a number of lawmakers including Rep. Henry Bonilla, R-San Antonio. Diaz also said the Bush campaign was courting Hispanic voters with Spanish language television ads and a Web site as well as interviews with Spanish language publications.

Kerry has not yet launched his Hispanic voter initiative but has criticized Bush's immigration plan as not providing a path to citizenship for illegal workers.

Jeb Bush Leads Rally Of Hispanics For President's Re-Election


Associated Press Writer

April 12, 2004
Copyright © 2004 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) - Gov. Jeb Bush urged Florida Hispanics on Monday to re-elect his brother, saying President Bush has done more to recognize Latinos than any other president.

The governor spoke at the first of several rallies scheduled nationwide to mobilize Hispanic voters for the Bush-Cheney campaign. He appealed to a swing voting group in a key swing state.

"This president, more than any other president, has recognized Hispanics," said Bush, who was accompanied by his Mexican-born wife, Columba.

The governor noted that President Bush had appointed Hispanics to top positions in his administration, such as White House counsel Alberto Gonzales, Small Business Administration administrator Hector Barreto and former Housing Secretary Mel Martinez, who resigned from the post to run for U.S. Senate in Florida.

The Republican Party is making a special effort this year to woo Hispanic voters, who only gave 35 percent of their votes to President Bush in 2000. Other GOP rallies for Hispanic voters will take place in Kansas City, Mo.; Albuquerque, N.M.; and Las Vegas.

"We're starting earlier and we're devoting more resources," said Sharon Castillo, director of specialty media for the Bush-Cheney campaign. "We know this is going to be a close election. So we want to do everything to attract the Hispanic vote."

Florida's 2.7 million Hispanics are considered a swing voting group. Many Cuban-Americans in South Florida voted for President Bush in 2000, but more Puerto Ricans and non-Cuban Hispanics in central Florida chose Democrat Al Gore. Gov. Bush won the Hispanic vote over his Democratic rival, Bill McBride, in the 2002 gubernatorial election.

"Latinos are no longer part of the Democratic base. You know why?" asked state Rep. John Quinones, R-Kissimmee. "Because Democrats take Latinos for granted."

Held at the Latin Quarter restaurant at Universal Studios, amid fake Aztec statutes and an 11-member mariachi band, the rally attracted 200 supporters like Raul Perez, a registered Republican and a former cafeteria owner originally from Puerto Rico, who appreciated President Bush's efforts to include a prescription drug program in Medicare.

"He's done a very good job," said Perez, 81.

At the rally, the Bush-Cheney campaign unveiled members of its National Hispanic Steering Committee, which include three Florida Republican congressional members: U.S. Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart, Lincoln Diaz-Balart and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.

The Republican rally came as the New Democrat Network, a pro-Democratic issue advocacy group, has been airing a television ad critical of President Bush on Spanish-language stations in Orlando. The ad accuses the president of breaking his promises to the Latino community on jobs, education and health care.

"When it comes to policies and when it comes to the issues that Latinos are more concerned with, there is no question that the Democrats are the ones who have fought for Latinos," group spokeswoman Maria Cardona said.

Efforts by Republicans to court Hispanic voters are just a "smoke screen for their failed policies," said Nelson Reyneri of the Office of Hispanic Outreach for the Democratic National Committee in Washington.

Democrats' policies on jobs, health care and education are more beneficial to Hispanics, he said.

Reyneri said Democrats made an effort to increase the influence of Hispanics during the primary season by moving up the primaries of Arizona and New Mexico, which have large Hispanic populations. Democrats also are holding a Hispanic Leadership Summit in Orlando next month, he said.

"It's what many call mariachi politics," Reyneri said. "They think a rally, good food can make up for three years of no leadership on Hispanic issues."


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