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Bush Campaign Confident That Hispanic Vote Will Bring Victory

Tuesday, 07 November 2000 12:00 AM

Despite Hispanics' traditional loyalty to the Democratic Party, the Republicans are convinced that they can win a considerably larger number of Latino votes, particularly in the battleground states where Bush and Al Gore are virtually tied in the polls.

This is the case in Florida and New Mexico, two hotly contested states with large Hispanic populations, where a handful of votes could decide the winner.

"The Hispanic vote is going to be very important," given the parity between the Texas governor and the vice president, Republican political consultant James Taylor said on Monday.

Bush campaign spokeswoman Sonia Colin agreed that the Hispanic vote "could be decisive" in some cases.

Taylor, a Texan whose mother is Mexican, predicts that whoever prevails in Tuesday's election, "the Hispanics will come out winning, because they'll know even more that their votes count."

The GOP objective is to try to split the usually solidly Democratic Hispanic vote, based on the premise that Latinos "have the same concerns as the rest of Americans."

"If Hispanics come out to vote in the states where the result is tight, they could make the difference," said Texas Human Rights Commissioner Ana Maria Farias, one of the more than 400 Hispanics Bush has named to high office in his five years as Texas governor.

According to the latest figures available to the Bush campaign, their candidate will receive 33 percent of the Hispanic vote on Tuesday, compared with the 21 percent garnered by Republican hopeful Bob Dole in 1996.

This election has seen the most active effort ever by Republicans to attract the Hispanic electorate, an effort that is part of a long-term strategy.

Given the demographic trends in the United States, no party can afford the luxury of ignoring minorities.

U.S. census data show that the number of Hispanic registered voters grew by 163 percent from 1976 to 1996, as opposed to a 31 percent increase among the general population, while the number of Latinos who actually go to the polls has gone up by 135 percent, far above the 21 percent national figure.

Campaigns have been able to take advantage of a much larger array of Spanish-language media than in previous years to target the states with large Latino populations – California, Texas, Florida, New York, Illinois and New Mexico – and Hispanics throughout the country.

Bush began running radio ads in Spanish in January during the primary election in Iowa, a state with a small but rapidly growing Hispanic population.

"In this campaign, we're doing very different things," said Taylor.

The idea behind the campaign aimed at Hispanics is that Latinos "are not a minority, but an integral part" of the United States, explained Cesar Martinez, who works for the San Antonio firm that produced the ads.

He added that the ad campaign, which appeared on television, radio, the Internet and in print, was intended to "demolish stereotypes" about Latinos.

There are 14 Hispanics among the 260 people working at Bush's national campaign headquarters in Austin.

(C) EFE

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Despite Hispanics' traditional loyalty to the Democratic Party, the Republicans are convinced that they can win a considerably larger number of Latino votes, particularly in the battleground states where Bush and Al Gore are virtually tied in the polls. This is the case...
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Tuesday, 07 November 2000 12:00 AM
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