More than ten years ago both my husband and I acquired La Voz, the country was headed toward the worst economic of times and we were in the middle of an election year. The two top contenders were the Democratic nominee, Sen. Barack Obama making history as the first African American candidate and the Republican nominee, Viet Nam war hero and former P.O.W., Sen. John McCain. This was Sen. McCain’s second run for president.
In August of 2008, the American G.I. Forum, held its national conference in Denver at the Hyatt Regency and Sen. McCain was a featured speaker. As publisher of a well known weekly, La Voz, whose reader’s predominantly political party was Democrat, I sought out a face-to-face interview with Sen. McCain.
His time was limited in Denver, but La Voz was able to land a telephone interview as he traveled to Denver. That article ran on the front page of La Voz on Wednesday, August 20, 2008.
In that interview Sen. McCain offered answers that supported his integrity, patriotism and overall good guy image. I later met him at the convention after his speech and I will forever remember a man of integrity and conviction. Rest in peace, Sen. McCain, you’ve reached your destination of Honor, Duty and Country.
Below are excerpts from that interview:
“Latino Americans who are here and have been here for generations appreciate and cherish the Spanish heritage and culture. In my own state, (Arizona) Spanish was spoken first.” While Latinos perpetuate their culture, they are also concerned about how Senators McCain’s or Obama’s presidency will affect them.
The Latino culture includes a wide range of people from the new immigrant to the Mexican-American who has roots in America dating back to the early 1500s. Senator McCain believes all Latinos are still concerned about the same issues and have the same values that makes this country a great place to live.
“History shows us that people who come to this nation are concerned about all issues important to the country.” McCain said the makeup of America includes the small business owner, of which immigrants own a very large percentage. “These businesses are the backbone of our country,” said McCain. The reality, however, is that those same immigrants may or may not be in this country legally, but wish to pursue the American dream.
The Republican presidential nominee claims a record of supporting immigration reform.
“I supported immigration reform along with Senator Ted Kennedy when it was not a popular issue.” McCain believes in implementing a work program. Asked about the controversy of securing our borders—how, according to some, the electronic technology fence tactic has failed. McCain responded, “We need to secure our borders, not just because of illegal immigration, but because of the flow of drugs into this country.” According to Senator McCain the use of technology along the borders of Arizona, for example, are effective in controlling drug infiltration into this country. McCain’s immigration reform policy may be one solution, but will it secure the Latino vote?
Amongst some Colorado Latinos there is a feeling of abandonment from both presidential candidates. According to Val Vigil, former State Representative for District 32 and Chair of the Adams County Democratic Latinos, “The candidates are not doing enough. We get lip service and nothing more. We need more than a Spanish ad in Spanish media. We need to be included in the decision-making that affects the Latino community.”
When asked if the Latino voter is being taken for granted. McCain responds, “I’m not hearing that from organizations like LULAC, LA RASA and others. I am proud of my record. I understand the concerns and challenges of the Hispanic population.” While Latinos decide which candidate reached out to them and won their vote, another important voter is identified.
The young voter is important to both candidates and McCain addresses an issue that is important to young voters—the environment. “It is very clear that we have been involved in climate change, the preservation of national parks and our environment.” When asked about the youth vote, McCain responds, “Everyday I listen to young Americans. I listen to my children who are between the ages of 17-23.” McCain feels confident about America’s youth, but has the younger more popular Obama secured the younger vote? The McCain campaign touches on that subject in a recent ad.
A television commercial depicting Senator Barack Obama as a “celebrity Hollywood-type” approved by Senator McCain has created much commentary. Senator McCain added, “I think America should have a sense of humor. If you don’t, then you need to go take a walk and get some fresh air.” McCain is concerned about the rest of the message in the commercial, which talks about Obama’s lack of support for offshore drilling and raising taxes.
What Senator McCain is hoping to accomplish within a predominantly Democratic Latino population may be an uphill battle, but it may not be any easier for Senator Obama. It could be a major mistake on both their parts to assume the Latino vote is theirs.