In 2012, the Hispanic community has the potential to help determine which presidential candidate will win the election. In Florida 13 percent of the registered voters are Hispanic and 13 percent of the registered voters are Black. If Blacks and Hispanics form a coalition, they have the power to ensure that President Obama wins Florida.
This week at Lake Buena Vista, Fla., President Obama and Mitt Romney were given an opportunity to speak at the National Association of Latino Elected Official’s (NALEO) conference. In 2008, President Obama won two-thirds of the Latino vote and at the present time in the campaign, he is doing better. The Hispanic com-munity is the largest minority community in the country, but the majority of the community is not registered to vote.
They say in politics timing is everything, and the week before President Obama spoke at the NALEO conference, he issued an executive order to try to fix a part of the immigrant law. In his executive order, the President announced the government would exempt from deportation younger illegal immigrants who meet certain requirements as a temporary step to resolve the immigration problem.
Under the executive order, the president’s administration won’t try to deport some illegal immigrants under 30 who were brought to the U.S. before they turned 16, and have been in the country for at least five straight years. They must have no criminal history, and attend school or have earned a high school degree or its equivalent, or have served in the military. “It falls short of where we need to be, but it’s a temporary fix,” says the president.
At the NALEO conference, President Obama was greeted with enthusiastic cheers and multiple standing ovations when he talked about his new policy on undocumented youth. “I was very moved by it, and I saw a toughness that I had not seen the last time he came to NALEO. I liked that a lot, be-cause he has done so much in terms of not only what he did with the executive decision on young immigrants, but also with the economy,” says Mary Rose Wilcox, a Maricopa County supervisor from Phoenix.
President Obama told Hispanic lawmakers that he will courageously fight for comprehensive immigration reform. The president reaffirmed his position that he will create a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants, and continue to challenge the Republicans who have blocked attempts to fix the nation’s immigration laws.
“Congress still needs to come up with a long term immigration solution. The need hasn’t changed, but the only thing that’s changed is the politics,” said President Obama. During the Republican campaign Governor Romney talked about vetoing the Dream Act, deportation of Hispanics, and doing things that would take Latinos back generations.
But at the NALEO conference Romney has softened his tough rhetoric and reintroduced himself as a general-election nominee sympathetic to the concerns of Latino voters. The Republicans know that in order to win the election they need the Latino vote. While Romney spoke the audience was polite, but it was unenthusiastic and at times there were some boos.
It is obvious that this is un-familiar territory, and Romney and the Republicans will find it difficult to sell their platform to the majority of Hispanics. Many of the political experts say that Senator Marco Rubio is on the short list for Vice President. This would change the dynamics of the race but I don’t believe that he will get the nod from the Romney camp.
Nevertheless, this will be a close race and every vote is critical and every vote will count. President Obama needs to win Florida, but it will not be easy, because Governor Scott and the Republicans control the power in the state.