Obama targets Hispanic voters with Spanish campaign

July 24th, 2008 - 11:48 am ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Barack Obama

Washington, July 24 (IANS) US Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama has launched an advertising campaign in Spanish with a radio spot titled “Nuestro propio camino” (Our Own Road), which tries to establish parallels between his own personal story and that of many Latinos. The campaign launched Wednesday is the first in Spanish that Obama’s campaign has crafted since he clinched his party’s presidential nomination in June. It represents the start of an “aggressive campaign” targeting Hispanic voters before the Democratic National Convention in late August, EFE news agency reported Thursday.

The campaign, which will focus on Florida, New Mexico, Colorado and Nevada, promises to intensify the battle for the Hispanic electorate between Obama and presumptive Republican presidential nominee John McCain of Arizona, who has been airing ads geared to Latinos — although he clearly appears to be trailing the Illinois senator among Hispanics, according to recent voter surveys.

A poll released at the beginning of July by Gallup showed that Obama had the support of 59 percent of prospective Hispanic voters to 29 percent for McCain.

McCain will place emphasis on education, the traditional family and the importance of immigration reform. In his recent “Hijos de Dios” (Children of God) spot he emphasises the presence of Hispanics in US military ranks.

The commercials to be aired by Obama, who also backs immigration reform that offers a way to citizenship to the millions of undocumented residents, will seek to make the Democrat better known among Latinos.

“What we want is to tell Hispanics who Obama is, remind them that he doesn’t forget his origins and that he believes in hard work and education,” James Aldrete, the designers of the African American senator’s ads for Latinos, told EFE.

“Soy Barack Obama y yo apruebo este mensaje” (I’m Barack Obama and I approve this message), says the Illinois senator in clear Spanish, although with a marked American accent at the beginning of the advertisement that started running Wednesday.

“Some have power and connections,” continues the voice of a narrator in Spanish, adding that “the majority of us are building our own path, just like the man who can be the next president. Barack Obama.”

The ad, in which Obama is depicted as a self-made man who went to college thanks “to student loans and a lot of effort”, notes that he grew up “without a father” and was raised by his mother with the support of his maternal grandparents.

“It’s time to have a president who understands that we all deserve the chance to create our own future,” concludes the narrator, who places emphasis on Obama’s years of social activism and his commitment to immigration reform.

The idea, said Democratic lawmaker Xavier Becerra, is to present Obama as someone with a personal career that could be just like many Latinos, a community that comprises about 9 percent of the US electorate, according to census figures.

Sixty-five percent of the US Latino population lives in California, Texas, New York and Florida, all of which are key states in the November elections, and that also have a large presence in New Mexico, where more than half a million Hispanics - or 38 percent of the electorate - are registered to vote.

In addition, they are an important political force in Colorado, New Jersey and Illinois.

President George W. Bush was able to defeat his Democratic rival John Kerry in the 2004 election in states like New Mexico thanks to the Latino support he was able to muster.

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