- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 24, 2012

DAVENPORT, Iowa — The Obama campaign’s reliance on Hispanic voters in the upcoming election was on full display Wednesday as President Obama dangled the prospect of immigration reform next year, and a top aide predicted that the country’s fast-growing number of minority voters will propel the president to a second term over rival Mitt Romney next month.

In an interview that the White House originally insisted be kept off the record, Mr. Obama told the leading Iowa newspaper that he is confident he will achieve immigration reform next year if he is re-elected, a pledge on which he failed to deliver in his first term.

“Since this is off the record, I will just be very blunt,” Mr. Obama told the editor and publisher of the Des Moines Register in a 30-minute phone call as part of a pitch for the paper’s endorsement. “Should I win a second term, a big reason I will win a second term is because the Republican nominee and the Republican Party have so alienated the fastest-growing demographic group in the country, the Latino community.”

It was the latest in a series of less-than-subtle appeals by the president this year to Hispanics, whose growing clout could make the difference in battleground states such as Florida, Colorado, Nevada, Virginia and Iowa. In the campaign’s final two weeks, the president’s political strategists are focused mainly on persuading Mr. Obama’s supporters to go to the polls, despite high unemployment rates among minorities. In polls, Mr. Obama holds a lead of more than 30 percentage points over Mr. Romney among Hispanic voters.

Obama campaign spokeswoman Jen Psaki said minority early voting patterns in swing states are encouraging.

President Obama walks Oct. 24, 2012, across the tarmac to greet supporters upon his arrival on Air Force One at the Quad Cities International Airport in Moline, Ill., as the president began a two-day campaign blitz, through eight states with stops in key battleground areas of Iowa, Colorado, Nevada, Ohio and Virginia. (Associated Press)
President Obama walks Oct. 24, 2012, across the tarmac to greet supporters ... more >

“Even though the Romney team has been talking down the potential for minority turnout — African-American and Latino populations in this country — we think it will be a record turnout,” she said.

A senior adviser to the president, David Plouffe, told reporters that the burgeoning voter rolls of Hispanics and blacks this year is “a big thing to understand.”

“In every state, there are going to be more Latino voters than there were four years ago,” Mr. Plouffe said. “In Florida, there’s going to be hundreds of thousands more Latinos and African-Americans voting than there were last time. The demographics of some of these states are already improved, through nothing we’ve done. The electorate is just more friendly to the president than it was four years ago.”

Mr. Plouffe said the election will be an eye-opener for Republican lawmakers who have resisted immigration reform.

“If you lose a presidential election with Latino voters by 40 points in a vastly growing country, the responsible thing to do if you’re that party that’s losing by 40 points is to look in the mirror,” he said.

GOP pushback

A spokesman for the Romney campaign said the president’s strategy is to once again take advantage of Hispanic voters by making promises that go unfulfilled.

“It’s a fascinating glimpse into how President Obama has taken the Hispanic community for granted for the past four years,” said spokesman Alberto Martinez. “He’s caught making secret promises to an editorial board in Iowa, which also happens to be a promise he made in 2008, a promise he failed to keep, and a promise he doesn’t repeat publicly. The whole episode underscores why millions of Hispanics are deeply disappointed with President Obama. Hispanics view President Obama as a weak leader who makes promises he can’t keep and has pursued policies that have failed all Americans.”

Mr. Obama won the Hispanic vote by about 2-to-1 in 2008 over Republican Sen. John McCain. In most surveys, more than 95 percent of black voters also favored Mr. Obama.

The president told the newspaper that Republicans’ alienation of Hispanics “is a relatively new phenomenon.”

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