A sign for the campaign of U.S. President Barack Obama during an open house for the public to view the venue for the Democratic National Convention at Time Warner Cable arena in Charlotte. (Photo : Reuters/Chris Keane)
This is part two of a three-part series on the 2012 US Presidential Election and the Latino Vote. In this edition, we look into what the Democrats are doing ahead of their National Convention in Charlotte and their efforts to attract Latinos, a demographic they have had no trouble in confiding in the past. The first part, about the Republican National Convention's use of Latinos can be found here.
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Political news junkies don't have to wait long for their next fix as the Democratic National Convention (DNC) is only days away.
The DNC has a lot to accomplish in three short days compared to the events the Republican National Convention (RNC) orchestrated when it comes to the one demographic that many assume Democrats have secured: Latinos.
The RNC showcased that they are the party that have Latinos in governmental roles such as governors and senators, case in point the first female governor in the US, Susana Martinez of New Mexico.
Martinez acknowledges she was once a Democrat until realizing she fosters similar beliefs that Republicans shared.
Other Latinos in politics is Florida Senator Marco Rubio. A Cuban-American, Rubio has quickly become a rising star for the Republicans and featured as someone who can help reel in Latinos from his state and on a national level.
But perhaps Rubio missed the opportunity, as compared to Martinez, Rubio's speech at the RNC didn't focus on issues that are important to Latinos. The lack of a Latino-focus from Rubio is notable as he was heavily considered for the vice president seat next to Mitt Romney for the Latino vote.
But with Rubio aside, the RNC showed more Latino speakers than before. The DNC will have to do the same.
Or will they?
The list of speakers at the DNC have been confirmed, and although it is subject to change due to last minute plans and surprises, there doesn't appear to be a heavy focus on Latino speakers.
Notable Latino names speaking at the DNC are San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, journalist Christina Saralegui, and actress Eva Longoria.
A surprising name, but perhaps chosen because of she is one of 35 Obama Campaign's co-chairs, Longoria has been vocal about her support for Obama and has even spoke at rallies such as one in Miami earlier this month.
Longoria will probably double check her speech as she also represent the political side of Hollywood and not follow the same route Clint Eastwood did at the RNC.
For Saralegui, who many consider as the Latino equivalent of Oprah Winfrey, she's appeared on advertisements for the Obama campaign and heavily emphasized the Latino demographic.
"[Obama] understands the Hispanic community and has supported it unconditionally and that is why I was moved to endorse and campaign for our President's reelection," said Saralegui for an Obama ad.
She added, "This is a critical time for our country and for the Hispanic community. Hispanics could very well decide the next election and I will do everything I can from now until November to ensure that President Obama is re-elected; there's simply too much at stake."
Four recognized Latino names, but only two are politicians.
Los Angeles Mayor Villaraigosa is one of two Latino politicians speaking and even with that, it comes with controversy.
Villaraigosa, also serving as the DNC chair, has "applauded" Obama for his immigration policy and could be a future contender as the first Latino US president, according to ABC News. However, Villaraigosa made statements back in March speaking to Politico and said, "We should all speak English," but rebounded to say it's best to be bilingual to compete against others in the world.
This news went heavily unnoticed, and it remains to be seen if the GOP will pick up on it, but a more recent comment also stirred controversy when he said, "You can't just trot out a brown face or a Spanish surname and expect people are going to vote for your party or your candidate," in regards to the RNC's decision to allow more minority speakers.
The DNC are banking on San Antonio Mayor Castro, who will be the first Latino keynote speaker at a DNC.
Castro, at only 37-years-old, has been mayor of San Antonio since 2009 and has been named "Time" magazine's "40 under 40" list. He said the honor of being the keynote speaker is something he "won't take likely," following Obama's keynote speech in 2004. "I know I've got some big shoes to fill."
For a preview of what Castro can deliver, see below his keynote speech at the 2012 Texas Democratic Convention. It is important to note, Castro has a twin brother name Joaquin, who is currently running for the House of Representatives on behalf of Texas.
But aside from that, the Latino presence at the 2012 DNC seems low. Again, new names can be added between the first confirmed names and at any point during the convention.
Could Democrats not be bothered in attracting the Latino vote?
This theory has even been supported by Romney when speaking at the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials conference.
"I believe he's taking your vote for granted," said Romney.
According to the Denver Post, Obama won the Latino vote during the 2008 Presidential Election with a comfortable 67 percent over McCain's 31 percent. For the upcoming election, according to a NBC, Wall Street Journal, and Telemundo oversample of Latino voters, Obama once again has a lead with Latinos at 61 percent over Romney's 27 percent.
It became evident during the RNC that Republicans have more Latinos in positions of senators and governors, while Democrats bear lesser political roles such as mayors and congressman. If the Democrats wish to continue the tradition and comfortable advantage of having the Latino vote on their side and show that Latinos are capable of being involved in the political field, they need to promote their principles and positions more and remind Latinos that they are more than just a vote and a reason to not vote Republican.