- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 7, 2002

Republican National Committee Chairman Marc Racicot announced yesterday an "unprecedented" $1 million television campaign designed to woo Hispanic voters.
"Our commitment to reach out to all constituency groups is serious, and the Hispanic community is no exception," Mr. Racicot told a press conference at the J.W. Marriott. "President Bush has shown us that if we simply bring the Republican message to the Hispanic community, their support will follow."
Instead of the spot commercials Republicans have typically run, the campaign will be in the form of a 30-minute "newsmagazine" titled "Abriendo Caminos" Spanish for "Forging New Paths."
The series will begin airing on local affiliates of Univision or Telemundo the two largest U.S. Spanish-language TV networks in six cities this month.
Two of those cities, Miami and Orlando, are in Florida, where the president's brother, Gov. Jeb Bush, is running for re-election in November.
Mr. Racicot said the programs will be "directed toward informing the Hispanic community about important policy issues and administration initiatives."
"Each program will offer news, issues analysis and commentary," he said.
From May through January, each of nine shows is scheduled to air twice a month in Denver; Las Vegas; Miami; and Fresno, Calif.
In Albuquerque, N.M., and Orlando, five shows are scheduled from May through September.
Each month, the show will focus on an issue of "vital importance to the Latino community," Mr. Racicot said. The first will focus on education, with Education Secretary Rod Paige.
Conspicuously absent from what Mr. Racicot called the "trial" effort was Los Angeles, the market with the largest concentration of Hispanics in the country.
But Los Angeles is also the most expensive market, and its Hispanic population is considered less disposed to registering and voting Republican than the population in California's more rural and agricultural Central Valley, several Republican campaign consultants in California said privately.
"We know that Spanish-language television is an effective tool in reaching Hispanics, and 'Abriendo Caminos' is a logical way to communicate our message," said Mr. Racicot, the former governor of Montana.
The shows will be produced at the Republican National Committee's high-tech GOP-TV facilities established by former RNC Chairman Haley Barbour in the party's national headquarters building on First Street SE.
The RNC will use outdoor billboards, radio ads and TV announcements to promote the shows, and hopes to generate local news stories about its outreach to Hispanics, the fastest growing segment of the electorate, said Rudy Fernandez, the RNC's new grass-roots development director.
Sharon J. Castillo, RNC deputy communications director and former Telemundo network Washington bureau chief, will anchor the series.
In telephone interviews yesterday, several Republican media consultants said the real benefit of the TV shows will not be getting large numbers of Spanish-speaking viewers to register and vote Republican in November. Few such viewers register and vote compared with Hispanic Americans who watch English-language television, they said.


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