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Inside Politics: Conventions highlight split among Hispanic politicians

- - Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The Hispanics with the highest profiles in this year's political conventions stand as opposites in a cultural and political split that has divided millions of U.S. Hispanics for decades.

Cuban-American Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida introduced Mitt Romney at the GOP's convention last week in Tampa, Fla. San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, a Mexican-American, delivered the Democrats' keynote speech in Charlotte, N.C.

They are often lumped together as Hispanics. But Mr. Rubio and Mr. Castro are emblematic of acute political distinctions between Cuban-Americans and Mexican-Americans.

Mexican-Americans are the largest Hispanic group in the U.S. They have different histories in the U.S., have different political priorities and are subjected to distinctions in immigration policy that go easier on Cubans.

LOBBYING

Ex-Ensign aide sentenced to year of probation

A judge has sentenced a one-time top aide to former Sen. John Ensign to a year's probation for violating federal lobbying restrictions.

Doug Hampton is Mr. Ensign's former administrative assistant. He says he is "very relieved" at Wednesday's sentence.

Mr. Hampton resigned his job four years ago after learning that his wife and Mr. Ensign were having an affair. He lobbied the Nevada Republican's office, just a few days after leaving, on behalf of Allegiant Air, an airline headquartered in Las Vegas.

Federal law bars Senate aides from lobbying lawmakers for at least a year after leaving their jobs.

The 50-year-old Mr. Hampton was originally charged with seven felonies. But he pleaded guilty in June to a misdemeanor violation of the law.

SENATE

Missouri Democrat calls McCaskill race a 'dogfight'

Polls show that Rep. W. Todd Akin has dropped behind Sen. Claire McCaskill after making his infamous "legitimate rape" comment, but top Missouri Democrats are still eyeing the state's U.S. Senate race cautiously.

Missouri Secretary of State Robin Carnahan warned delegates to the Democratic National Convention that it will still be an uphill battle to re-elect Mrs. McCaskill to a second Senate term, according to the Kansas City Star.

"It's going to be a close election, people," Mrs. Carnahan said, speaking at a Wednesday-morning breakfast in Charlotte, N.C. "We know our state. We know this is going to be a dogfight down to the end."

But some Republicans have given up hope of winning the Senate seat, even though they once considered it one of their most likely pickups.

CONVENTIONS

Democrats' convention scores more tweets than GOP's

The Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., looks set to eclipse last week's Republican gathering -- at least on Twitter, according to the microblogging site's figures.

In a blog post, Twitter's head of government affairs, Adam Sharp, said that after just one day of the Democratic event, more than 3 million tweets using the hashtag #DNC2012 had been sent about it.

That compares with about 4 million tweets using the hashtag #RNC2012 sent during the entire three-day Republican National Convention last week.

Tens of thousands of tweets about first lady Michelle Obama's keynote speech Tuesday night were sent, Mr. Sharp said, peaking at the rate of 28,003 per minute at its conclusion -- nearly double Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney's peak of 14,289 per minute.

Even San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, whose speech peaked at 11,503 tweets per minute, "drove more Twitter conversation than any #GOP2012 speaker except for Governor Romney," Mr. Sharp said.

TEXAS

State officials urged not to defund Planned Parenthood

AUSTIN — State lawmakers, hospital system administrators and dozens of women urged Texas officials Tuesday not to sever funding to Planned Parenthood under a law barring state support for clinics affiliated with abortion providers.

A smaller, but no less vocal, number of people opposing abortion turned out to applaud the move during an emotionally charged public hearing.

Officials are working to exclude Planned Parenthood clinics that provide family planning and health services to poor women as part of the Texas Women's Health Program after the Republican-led Texas Legislature passed a law last year banning funds to organizations linked to abortion providers.

Planned Parenthood provides cancer screenings and other services -- but not abortions -- to about half of the estimated 130,000 low-income Texas women enrolled in the program, which is designed for women who might not otherwise qualify for Medicaid.

Planned Parenthood has sued, but a federal appeals court ruled Aug. 21 that the state can proceed with plans to cut off funding for it as part of the Texas Women's Health Program, and officials have promised to do so as soon as possible.

TRANSPORTATION SAFETY

Officials want collision warning system on aircraft

The National Transportation Safety Board wants to see ground collision-warning systems on all large commercial airliners.

The board recommended Wednesday that the Federal Aviation Administration require large airplanes to be equipped with collision-avoidance tools, such as an onboard externally mounted camera system that would give the pilot a clear view of the plane's wingtips. This comes after several mishaps at U.S. airports involving planes colliding with one another while taxiing.

One collision, in July 2011 at Boston's Logan International Airport, sent a woman to the hospital with neck pain after the wing of a large moving passenger jet clipped the tail of a smaller aircraft in front of it. Both planes, a Delta flight and an Atlantic Southeast Airlines flight, sustained damage.

No injuries were reported in the two other collisions being investigated by the safety board.

The recommendation covers bigger aircraft, such as the Boeing 747, 757, 767 and 777; the Airbus A380; and the McDonnell Douglas MD-10 and MD-11. The pilot cannot see the plane's wingtips from the cockpit on these airplanes.

The anti-collision aids should be installed on newly manufactured planes and retrofitted on existing ones, the safety board said. The board did not assess the costs involved.

NTSB Chairman Deborah Hersman said in a statement that such a system can provide "real-time information on wingtip clearance" from other obstacles.

From wire dispatches and staff reports