Clinton, Romney Top Hispanic Outreach Efforts

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Posted on 2007-11-05

Issue Date: Volume 1, Issue 1 - 11/5/07, Posted On: 11/4/2007

Clinton, Romney Top Hispanic Outreach Efforts
A review of the efforts by some of the candidates to target Hispanic voters and by other candidates to ignore them.

Senator Hillary Clinton and former Governor Mitt Romney each lead their opponents when it comes to the depth and strength of their current Hispanic voter outreach efforts. Both have competent Spanish-language sections on their website, both have aggressive Hispanic media relations efforts, both employ some heavy-duty Hispanic staff or strategists and both work with high-profile Latino surrogates.

In Clinton's case, that includes a slew of elected officials and high-profile Latino activists.

Former National Council of La Raza president Raul Yzaguirre is the co-chair of the Clinton campaign and travels the country speaking on the Senator's behalf. "Clearly, she has done very, very well. The national polls for Latinos show that we are over 60 percent among Democrats and doing very, very well among all Latino voters,” says Yzaguirre.

Mitt Romney has sent his Spanish-speaking son Craig to South Florida several times. Craig has also voiced over themost recent of three Spanish-language radio ad campaigns that have aired in Miami.

"You want to demonstrate to folks that you not only address the concerns that they have but you want to address those concerns in a language they speak," says Alex Castellanos senior advisor to the Romney campaign.

The difference between the two campaigns boils down to the Romney campaign focusing Hispanic voter outreach efforts in Florida, for now. Castellanos estimates between 8 percent and 10 percent of Florida Republican primary voters will be Hispanic.

The Clinton campaign, on the other hand, is staying out of Florida because of the ongoing dispute between the state Democratic Party and the Democratic National Committee. The campaign has Hispanic outreach efforts in states with tiny Latino populations such as Iowa and New Hampshire, as well as in large states like Nevada.

The fact that Governor Bill Richardson is Hispanic and a native speaker of Spanish should prove a boon in Nevada. The governor has already bought Spanish-language radio in the state and surely will make himself readily available to Hispanicmedia outlets. Richardson's “Mi Familia con Richardson” initiative, which groups together supporters who are friends and family, should resonate with Latino voters.

"Together, it is a multifaceted approach from the diverse leadership to the communications team to field organizers to a well-developed, well-thought out grassroots program. It is pretty comprehensive" says Martha Arevalo who heads an outsideagency hired to manage Latino communications.

However, Richardson comes up short in resources, both monetary and political. He lacks the list of heavyweight Latino endorsements. Ironically, he also lacks the name recognition among Latinos that Hillary Clinton enjoys.

Aside from paid media in Nevada, Richardson also recently bought advertising in a Spanish-language newspaper in Iowa, which is the scene of competing Latino voter outreach efforts.

Senator Barack Obama is targeting Latino voters in Iowa and works with a prominent Hispanic political communications firm, Elevation/Elevación. However, to date, the most innovative Hispanic marketing on Obama´s behalf has come from outside the campaign.

Independent Obama supporter Miguel Orozco, president of Los Angeles- based Nueva Vista Media, wrote, paid for, produced and recorded a catchy reggaetón jingle promoting the senator's candidacy that is downloaded some 50,000 times a month.

There are a total of 118,000 Hispanics in Iowa of which an estimated 37,000 are registered voters. In a very tight caucus, even a small number can make a difference.

But 37,000 is a very small number, which explains, in part, why Senator Joe Biden and others have not invested much time, effort or money in Latino voter outreach. This despite having a Latino campaign manager, Luis Navarro, who is also a former executive director of the Florida Democratic Party.

"Clearly our challenge is one of a campaign that has relatively modest resources compared to a number of other candidates in this race. And we are also mindful of the challenge that comes in a race in which you have not only a Hispanic candidate but a brand name in the context of the Clintons that has a market within the Hispanic community," says Navarro.

As for the Republicans, Romney is not yet facing much competition in his Hispanic voter outreach effort.

The Rudy Giuliani campaign's announcement last Friday that it has hired South Florida political consultant Julio Rebull may signify a desire to ramp up Hispanic media outreach. And certainly, once there is a nominee, the Republicans will be able to tap into the RNC's Latino voter expertise.

Meanwhile, though, Navarro says of Latino political marketing efforts across the board, "we are just scratching the surface."

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