Senator Barack Obama appears to have launched a Hispanic version of his closing argument to voters. In an exclusive interview with the Spanish-language newspaper chain ImpreMedia, the Democratic candidate said he intends to “guarantee that [immigration reform] will not be used as a political football” and added that he was “committed” to putting together “a recipe” for immigration reform “starting in my first year” in the presidency.
In his chat with reporter Maribel Hastings of L.A. newspaper La Opinión, he made the disclaimer that if elected president he would have to deal with some more urgent issues at the start of his term. But Obama gave assurances that he is still committed to pushing forward immigration reform during his first year in office. [The interview was available only in Spanish on the chain’s website Tuesday: what follows is our translation back into English.]
The Democrat –who’s been warning his supporters against complacency despite his steady lead in the polls– also urged Hispanics to get out and vote. It’s becoming widely accepted that Obama will need Hispanic voters to put him over the top in some key states on the electoral map.
“I hope everyone understands what is at stake: if we’re going to try and make fundamental changes, comprehensive immigration reform, and a health care system that works for everyone, then we will have to see the Hispanic vote get out in record numbers,” he said. “In the battleground states, they can make all the difference in the world.”
Obama said the current economic crisis, rather than generating more opposition to the reform he proposes –which would include a path to legalization for the estimated 12 million undocumented immigrants– could help, since it has already slowed the influx of immigrants into the U.S. (And as we reported recently, it is also sending immigrants back home.) Obama said this may relieve some of the pressure on the immigration debate, and repeated that his approach would include more secure borders, severe measures against employers who hire undocumented workers and, at the same time, “a way to citizenship” for people who are “living in the shadows.”
The Democratic candidate added that one of his proposals for combating the crisis, an infrastructure development plan, would favor Hispanics, since many of them work in the construction industry. He also talked about “fixing the health care system” and “guaranteeing the educational system works,” two issues dear to many Hispanic voters.
As part of his closing argument to Hispanics, Obama said this community was hit “harder than anyone else” by the economic downturn. “I think the Latino community has understood that the economy hasn’t worked” for working families and the middle class, he said.
As if to make his final pitch perfect for the coveted Latino voters, the candidate even announced that there will be a Hispanic family in the much-touted Obama infomercial that’s slated to run tonight on NBC, CBS, Fox and also Univision.