Amid presidential primary races that have seen several candidates profess interest in the Hispanic community, a picture of each candidate’s commitment to reach out to Hispanic voters is emerging.
Over the past few weeks, Hispanic Link News Service submitted a series of questions to the 17 campaigns to measure their outreach efforts.
Four candidates — Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, a Democrat, and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, a Republican — offered full responses.
Spokesmen for Reps. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., and Tom Tancredo, R-Colo., said their campaigns did not direct outreach to specific groups, and race was not a factor in targeting votes.
The campaign of Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., claiming a backlog of media inquiries, failed to respond within several days.
Campaign strategists for former Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C., said he had a Hispanic outreach program, but requests for details were not answered.
Republican competitors of Romney have yet to show much Hispanic interest.
Here are some questions presented by Hispanic Link to the candidates, with their key elements of their responses.
Do you have a formal Hispanic outreach program?
Three — Clinton, Romney and Richardson — definitely do. Clinton began hers in February, Romney started his in June. Dodd’s campaign says he is working with the Hispanic community but does not have a particular program in place.
Do you have a Spanish-language Web site? Do you send out press releases in Spanish?
Clinton’s Spanish Web site includes an issues section. Her English press releases are translated into Spanish. Romney’s and Richardson’s offices offer similar services in addition to translating major policy papers and speeches. Dodd’s site has content in Spanish, although it’s not as comprehensive.
Are you creating special committees to work with the Hispanic community?
Clinton has started her National Hispanic Leadership Council with plans for addressing state-specific leadership groups.
Romney announced a National Hispanic Steering Committee to advise the candidate and advance grass-roots support.
“Mi Familia con Richardson” is a nationwide grass-roots mobilization focusing on the recruitment of family-based chapters to serve Richardson as message disseminators.
Who in your campaign may voters contact for information on how to get involved?
Readers may visit www.hispaniclink.org for a complete listing of all 17 campaigns’ contact information.
A few candidates paid early attention to national Hispanic organizations by participating in some of their events this year.
Clinton has been the most visible. She spoke at the National Council of La Raza’s annual conference, the Esperanza USA Hispanic Prayer Breakfast and the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials Presidential Forum, among other venues.
The only other candidate to show up for NALEO was Hunter.
Clinton also joined in the fall Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute’s public policy debate, along with three other Democrats — Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio, Sen. Joseph Biden of Delaware and former Alaska Sen. Mike Gravel.
A good venue for Richardson, drawing 300 influential Washingtonians, was the Latino Leaders luncheon, held in February.
Romney spoke at the Republican National Hispanic Assembly in July.
(Mario Aguirre is a reporter with Hispanic Link News Service in Washington. Reach him at Mario(AT)hispaniclink.org. For more stories, visit scrippsnews.com.)