While the Republican hopefuls continued to air their dirty linen in public, getting in their last shots at each other to win the vote in Tuesday’s Florida primaries, Obama appeared to be making a move below the radar to win the support of this sought-after Hispanic electorate.
In the last few days, high-ranking Hispanic officials from Barack Obama’s government have left their desks in Washington to come to the central Florida city of Orlando to meet with Hispanic leaders, retailers and businessmen, most of them Puerto Ricans, and with them converse and exchange ideas.
Obama is obviously campaigning in Florida, mainly among Hispanics, a vote that will be crucial in the upcoming November elections, Terri Fine, political scientist and professor at the University of Central Florida, told Efe.
With the Republican campaign getting dirtier all the time and the party’s candidates seizing every chance to insult each other, Obama is using the situation to nail the Hispanic vote in Florida, Fine said.
The most recent of these visits from Washington took place Friday with the arrival of Mercedes Marquez, assistant to Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan, who manages an $8-billion budget for programs of community growth and development and low-cost housing.
In her meeting with Latino leaders and presided by Orlando’s Democratic Mayor Buddy Dyer and his director of multicultural affairs, the Puerto Rican Luis Martinez, Marquez said that the president had given her full authority to do everything necessary to aid the communities in need.
That statement in Orlando was aimed directly at Hispanics, who have been the among the main victims of the mortgage crisis, which in this city has left some sky-high rents and long waiting lists for public assistance to make house payments.
Those attending the meeting bombarded the official with questions related to housing assistance programs.
But though Martinez said the meeting was held so the Hispanic community could get to know Marquez and exchange impressions, in the end it had all the air of a rally for Obama’s reelection.
“We have to feel proud of our president and we’re going to keep him in power by voting once more for Obama,” the Dominican pastor Gilberto Nuñez said.