THE CURRENT PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES
Verne Strickland Blogmaster June 20, 2011
WELL, MR. OBAMA, LET ME GIVE YOU AN IDEA OR TWO. FIRST, WHILE YOU MAY LIKE BIGGIE SMALLS MORE THAN GEORGE JONES, I WILL SAY THAT THE POSSUM HAD A LOT OF HITS EVEN AFTER HE RECORDED 'NO-SHOW' JONES.
ALSO, YOU CAN WIN BACK THE LATINO VOTE BY SIMPLY SAYING: 'MR. GORBACHEV, TEAR DOWN THIS FENCE!' GIVE IT A TRY. AND LOOK, SIR -- DON'T SWEAT IT. WE'RE WATCHING YOUR BACK.
By JULIE MASON POLITICO.COM | 6/19/11 11:14 PM EDT
Some members of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials also are questioning Obama’s commitment to immigration reform, noting that deportations have increased under his watch — even as the administration intensifies its outreach for Hispanic votes. NALEO, which includes more than 6,000 Latino leaders who represent major blocs of voters in key electoral states, opens its annual conference Thursday in San Antonio.
After POLITICO raised questions about Obama’s attendance at NALEO, the White House informed the National Council of La Raza, another Hispanic organization, that Obama would attend its annual conference in July, according to La Raza spokesman Julian Teixeira.
Three years later, NALEO is still waiting. Vargas said the invitation for this week’s conference was delivered to the White House a year ago.
“It’s more than a disappointment,” Vargas told POLITICO. “I don’t get it. I don’t think he’s given our membership the attention they deserve.”
Vargas said the White House told him Obama’s schedule is too tight to allow his attendance. The White House pressed NALEO to accept a video address by the president instead, according to the organization. NALEO declined.
“We’ve had numerous folks call and write, asking [that] he honor his commitment,” said NALEO President Sylvia Garcia, a Democrat from Texas. “They said no.”
Garcia and others asked for Attorney General Eric Holder or Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano as potential substitutes for Obama. The administration is sending Interior Secretary Ken Salazar.
Salazar “will discuss the Obama administration’s priorities and the steps the administration has taken and will continue to take on behalf of Latinos and all Americans to put us back on the path to long-term prosperity and growth,” Interior Department spokeswoman Kendra Barkoff said.
She called the conference “a high priority for the White House as well as Secretary Salazar.”
But Juan C. Zapata, a Florida Republican and chairman of the NALEO Educational Fund, the organization’s nonprofit community outreach arm, called Obama “calculating” and “disingenuous.”
“He sent a very clear message to the Hispanic community that, ‘I want your support on the campaign, but I am not willing to do anything to earn it,’” Zapata said.
“It is getting harder and harder for the president to go into a venue where he is confronted by Latinos because he is in a jam,” said Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.), one of Obama’s earliest Hispanic supporters and a member of NALEO.
“In front of a group like NALEO, blaming Republicans for their intransigence on immigration reform and not addressing what the president’s own administration is doing to immigrants would not wash,” said Gutierrez, who traveled with Obama to the 2008 NALEO conference. “So it isn’t surprising to me that the president is not showing up.”
Luis Miranda, a White House spokesman, said the administration has shown “unprecedented” work and outreach on issues important to Hispanics.
“The scope of the president’s efforts on behalf of Latinos and all Americans is not defined by his participation at one event, but rather by the work carried out every day to put our economy back on track and spur job creation, improve access to health care, strengthen education and reform our immigration system so that it meets America’s 21st century needs,” Miranda said.