July 11, 2008
Cisneros and Obama

This is a good start: Former San Antonio Mayor and HUD Secretary Henry Cisneros is out campaigning for Barack Obama.

"I'll be traveling to a dozen to 15 states to carry the Obama message to the Latino community," Cisneros said after his TV appearance. "I, along with others, want to dispel the sense that Latinos, out of a sense of disappointment by Hillary's failure to secure the nomination, will sit out the election."

Cisneros' appearance Tuesday was the first time he has publicly spoken on Obama's behalf, "and we welcome and are thrilled with his support," said Obama spokeswoman Shannon Gilson.

Cisneros represents a critical part of the Illinois senator's effort to court and convert Hispanic voters, many of whom were diehard Clinton supporters who turned out with a fervor not seen since the Viva Kennedy rallies of the early 1960s.

"Cisneros, like (Los Angeles Mayor Antonio) Villaraigosa and California Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard, the first Mexican-American woman elected to Congress, are both known nationally and are heroes in the Latino community," said Juan Sepulveda, a local Obama adviser.

"Having them act as Sen. Obama's top-level surrogates and carry his message into the Latino community will be an enormous boost for the campaign."

As we know, Latino voters are already strongly in Obama's camp, but as with so many other constituencies this year, pumping up turnout is a big part of the strategy. It's great to see folks like Cisneros taking on this task.

Of course, there is one thing he could do that would make this even better:

Sepulveda, an Obama backer from the time he announced his candidacy, said the campaign is focusing unprecedented efforts on Latinos.

"There are four key states -- Nevada, Colorado, New Mexico and Florida -- where Latinos will play a major role," he said. "But apart from the 'usual suspect states,' we will focus on Missouri, Iowa and Illinois that we believe will be a critical part of the equation for an Obama victory."


Cisneros said he warned Obama about taking Hispanics for granted.

"That would be a mistake," Cisneros said. "And Obama committed to a significant allocation of resources, staffers and field offices in areas of the country with high Latino populations, even Texas," a GOP stronghold.

"He gets it."

If he really gets it, he'll make sure Cisneros spends some time in his home state, ensuring maximal turnout here where it will also do Rick Noriega some good. John Cornyn is worried about his re-election chances, and I guarantee that the Obama factor is one of the reasons why. Obama says he understands the importance of a Democratic resurgence in Texas. This is one way he can demonstrate that.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on July 11, 2008 to The making of the President
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