Embattled Hillary Clinton is planning to hire Hispanic advisers for key jobs on her campaign team as she follows in President Barack Obama's footsteps by courting the vast voting bloc, The Wall Street Journal reports
Clinton, who is embroiled in an email scandal surrounding her tenure as secretary of state, is making the move to head off a threat from potential Republican rivals to grab Hispanic voters ahead of the presidential election next year.
Clinton plans to name a Latina, Amanda Renteria, to the leading position of national political director, sources say, adding that the former first lady has also been consulting on strategy with former and current Hispanic officials, even inviting some of them to join the expected campaign.
Democrats are concerned that Republicans could reach out to Latino voters during the next 20 months, which they failed to do during the losing campaigns of Mitt Romney in 2012 and Arizona Sen. John McCain in 2008, who captured just 27 percent and 31 percent of the Hispanic vote, respectively.
Clinton loyalists are also worried that GOP frontrunner Jeb Bush's marriage to a Latina and his support for a comprehensive immigration overhaul will endear him to Hispanics.
Harold Ickes, a strategist in Clinton's failed 2008 campaign, tells the Journal that the former Florida governor "has very strong credentials" with Hispanics and could capture Colorado, a battleground state that Obama won twice.
"We have had very, very long conversations about what the terrain will look like if she decides to run," said Rep. Loretta Sanchez, a California Democrat who describes Clinton as a close friend. "Anybody who understands a national presidential campaign understands that the Latino vote is up for grabs.
"And so if you're going to disrespect us by thinking you can come in in the last two weeks and throw us a guacamole and tortilla chip party and say 'hola, amigo,' and somehow we're going to vote for you, it doesn't happen that way these days."
In preparation for her planned campaign, Clinton has been actively seeking operatives for a headquarters in New York and in states holding early contests, such as Iowa and New Hampshire, the Journal reported.
According to the paper, Renteria's appointment would send a strong message to Hispanics who want be involved at the highest level of Clinton's campaign plans. Educated at Harvard and Stanford, Renteria worked for years in the Senate, serving as chief of staff to Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow of Michigan.
Last year, Renteria lost by a wide margin in a congressional bid for a seat in California's Central Valley, where nearly three in four residents are Hispanic, despite attacking Republican efforts to prevent immigration reform, the Journal noted.
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