Friday, September 5, 2008
Latino friends help McCain's effort for Presidency
GOP's Hispanics see opportunity for their '08 ticket
Guillermo X. Garcia - Express-News
MINNEAPOLIS Reaching out to Hispanic voters in his bid for the presidency, Sen. John McCain can thank his old roommate at the U.S. Naval Academy for helping him develop an appreciation for conservative Hispanic family values.
Frank Gamboa, a retired naval officer who now uses a wheelchair, said he retains fond memories of growing up with McCain at the academy in the mid-1950s.
I always saw him as so intense, but alsomuy simpático, and I found he was understanding, and truly sympathetic, when I'd relate my life as a first-generation American, said Gamboa, who grew up in Southern California.
San Antonio marketing guru Lionel Sosa, who has been guiding Hispanic outreach efforts for GOP candidates since Ronald Reagan's run in 1980, said the things McCain learned in his early and continuing relationship with Gamboa, and his bipartisan support for a comprehensive immigration reform bill would help the GOP ticket in November.
John McCain developed his respect about our cultural, tradition and conservative Hispanic family values from Frank when they were both very young men, Sosa said.
With the election two months away, Hispanics are being courted by both political parties like never before, Sosa said at an event honoring him in Minneapolis on Tuesday. And he believes that never before have Hispanics had the opportunity to exert their political muscle as they will in the fall.
He said he expects that Barack Obama's minority outreach campaign could top an unprecedented $30 million.
But while the Democrats' deep-pocketed backers may outspend the GOP in minority outreach, Sosa believes McCain's position on Hispanic issues could harvest a large number of votes. A film Sosa produced that was shown at the convention Tuesday highlighted McCain's commitment to and understanding of Hispanic issues.
For example, because of McCain's willingness to buck what's viewed as his party's anti-immigrant stance, Democrats can't automatically count on unwavering Latino support, Sosa said.
He said that with a unified effort, McCain's Hispanic vote total could top that of President Bush in the 2004 election, when Bush garnered more than 42 percent of the Hispanic vote.
While immigration has not yet surfaced as an issue at the Republican National Convention, Texas delegates like Hollis Rutledge Jr. say McCain and his vice presidential running mate have a unique opportunity to gather Hispanic support.
You know that 70 percent of the Rio Grande Valley voted for Hillary by more than 2-to-1 in the primary, said Rutledge, chairman of the Hidalgo County Republican Party, and a Hispanic, despite the Anglo name. The fact that McCain chose (Alaska Gov. Sarah) Palin is no coincidence.
Rutledge cited the North American Free Trade Agreement as another reason for Hispanics to support McCain.
McCain is for keeping NAFTA that has so greatly benefited business growth in San Antonio and the Valley, he said. Obama opposes it, and that is critical for us in South Texas to consider because NAFTA has fueled so much of the business boom in the Valley and San Antonio.
Former U.S. Rep. Henry Bonilla was honored at a luncheon hosted by the nonpartisan Latino Leaders Network, where one of the speakers, actress Rosario Dawson, underscored the potential Latinos have to affect the presidential race.
The popular, 29-year-old actress and founder of Voto Latino, a 4-year-old, nonpartisan effort to enfranchise Latinos, said this fall's election represents a huge, huge challenge and opportunity for (Latinos) to impact the election.
Gamboa agreed, saying: We could be the difference this time around. And if Latinos were to know John McCain like I do, they'd vote for him, just like I'm going to.
Gamboa recalled that on weekend leave from the Naval Academy, he'd smuggle several dozen tamales for McCain's mother, Roberta. Gamboa said McCain loved tamales, and his mother feared he'd eat the entire package.
His Christian beliefs, and our discussions about Mexican traditions, values and respect for family and love of this country, made me realize he is a man who wants to do right, to bring about justice, he said. He understands and appreciates our work ethic and I really believe him when he says that we are all God's children.
Posted by Adrian Perez, Publisher at 6:57 AM
Labels: LATINOS FOR MCCAIN
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September 5, 2008 10:16 AM