Candidates Woo Largest Spanish-speaking Audience in the Country, Part II

More on John McCain's interview with Univision anchor, Jorge Ramos. Univision has the largest Spanish-language audience in the U.S.

ON LATIN AMERICA- When asked about the prospect of Russia providing Venezuela with training and nuclear arms, and whether he would rule out U.S. military intervention in Venezuela, Sen. McCain responded that he definitely would (keep in mind all those Florida voters who are originally from Venezuela or still have family and ties to the country). Sen. McCain stated his priorities regarding Latin America as: 1) U.S. independence from Venezuelan oil, as there is evidence that Venezuela is helping aid the FARC in Colombia, and 2) passage of a Free Trade Agreement with Colombia.

Last weekend, Barack Obama and Joe Biden appeared with Jorge Ramos on Al Punto. By contrast, when asked about Latin America, Sen. Obama appeared to understand that the United States' relationship with the region has so much more at stake than merely trade agreements and foreign aid, "Trade agreements cannot serve as a substitute to sensible policy...It's not about just sending money [to the region] and forgetting about it...If this hollow policy continues, our children will be in danger...we should be in contact at this critical time." Sen. Biden noted, "..this Administration has no policy towards Russia, or towards Latin America for that matter."

ON OTHER ISSUES - On immigration, Barack Obama said during his interview with Ramos that in order to truly secure the border, we also need to go after unscrupulous employers and to provide legalization to all the undocumented in order to bring them out of the shadows. On the election:

JR: Will Hispanics decide this election? What do you think of Latino voters?
BO: "...The states with the largest Hispanic populations will certainly have a decisive role during this election....Hispanics could be the largest group of voters in New Mexico....I do think Hispanics are going to turn out and vote because they will decide whether they want to continue 8 years of failed policies or I have no doubt that this election will turn out record numbers of Latinos and voters in general."
JR: So will Hispanics decide this election?
JB: In some states, like Florida, my state for example, small state of Delaware, has among the largest rates of growth of states on the east coast, the population has increased 25% over the last 17 years, and a full quarter of that growth is comprised of Hispanics in my state.

Jorge Ramos also posed a few tough questions to Sen. McCain:

JR: Governor Palin, she said Sen. Obama worked from an ex-terrorist's living room. But she works for the campaign right? So I take it she had your approval to say those things, are you suggesting that [Sen. Obama] tolerates terrorism?
JM: No. We just believe the American people should know more about this relationship.

**Sarah Palin was scheduled to appear with John McCain, but she reportedly had a scheduling conflict. Sen. McCain did say that she will be on Al Punto soon.

What Happened with the NH Youth Vote?

We have plenty of theories this morning on how and why Clinton pulled out a win in the New Hampshire primary. I am happy to say the youth vote is not being blamed for Obama's loss and instead the Clinton campaign and even some pundits are saying it was because of the youth vote that she won.

Our first concern in the youth vote community was less about who won or lost, and more about how the surge in Iowa would be portrayed if Obama did not win. The conventional wisdom in 2004 was all young people were voting for Dean. That was not true, young voters were split between Kerry, Dean and Edwards. However, that didn't stop the media from blaming young people for Dean's loss. Additionally, when Kerry lost the general election, we spent the next four years explaining that young people did turn out beating a record high from 1992. In the end, it simply did not matter though, the media wrote the youth vote story and it was "young people are all hype, they say they will show up but don't."

Cynics and pundits are on message now. We did not hear many people last night blaming Obama's loss on young people and rather they were claiming it was young people who helped propel Clinton into victory. There may be something to that.

Obama has a wider youth campaign strategy and a broader youth movement happening right now which is why overall he has higher youth numbers. The Clinton campaign saw this and went after a group within the youth demographic they knew they could get-young professional women and working-class young people. Youth turnout overall jumped to 43% up from 18% in 2004.

Obama overwhelmingly got the 18-24 year old bloc (60% vs 22% for Clinton). The 18-29 year old bloc was split, with Clinton having a 2% advantage over Obama (37% Clinton, 35% Obama). If anything, the Clinton win gives the youth vote community an opportunity to tell the story that young people can and must be found on and off campus. Only about 25% of young people are in college, so if you want the youth vote you have to go where they live and where they hang out.

In last few days of the campaign, Clinton was able to appeal to working class young people with her message of Obama living in the clouds and she is working in the trenches. With this basic point, the Clinton campaign went after the 25-29 year old block.

We also can't overlook her moment of tears. Some will say it was contrived, but it seems women ages 25-29 looked at that as first time Clinton showed that politics is about passion, not just a job. Young women in this age group are working on their early careers, struggling with making it and probably have had moments like Clinton had in the coffee shop. They may have said to themselves "yeah, I know how that feels when you work your butt off, try your best and it doesn't seem to work out." So they gave her another shot with their votes.

The good news for young voters is both campaigns-and I would bet Edwards as well-are looking at how much they are investing in their youth programs. We will be watching how the candidates talk about young voters, talk to young voters and what their GOTV efforts look like in Nevada and South Carolina and leading into Super Tuesday.

Young voters now have to decide-are they "fired up" and "ready to go" or do they jump on the "experience" bus. At the very least, the campaigns will have to retool their youth programs to reach the youth communities in Nevada and South Carolina. South Carolina has a large African American population and Nevada has large Latino pollution two parts of the youth community that in 2004 voted in record numbers for Democrats. We are confident Democrats will win the youth vote, 80% of young people in Iowa and 61% in New Hampshire voted for Democrats. The only question we have is which Democrat will they go for?

Jane Fleming Kleeb is the Executive Director of the Young Voter PAC which helps Democratic candidates and State Parties win with the 18-35 year-old vote through endorsements, on-the-ground support, training, strategy and money. She is a regular on Fox and is part of MTV’s Street Team ‘08 representing Nebraska.

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