The League of United Latin American Citizens launched an initiative Wednesday to mobilize Latino voters in the 2012 election. The only thing missing is a presidential candidate for the the community to rally around.
"Candidates for president have failed to address issues of concern to the Hispanic community," National LULAC President Margaret Moran said during a press conference Wednesday. [See pictures of the 2012 GOP candidates.]
Brent A. Wilkes, LULAC's executive director, points to George W. Bush as an example of how a candidate should reach out to the Latino community. Bush ran on the platform of "compassionate conservatism," supporting the creation of temporary work visas for illegal immigrants, appointing Latinos like Alberto Gonzales to key cabinet positions and inviting Mexico's President Vicente Fox to address Congress in a quest to develop a comprehensive immigration policy.
"We need a Bush Republican," Wilkes says. "He was familiar with what was important to Latino voters. He'd worked with Latinos when he'd been the governor of Texas."
Wilkes says Latinos and Bush didn't agree on every policy, but adds the Hispanic community respected Bush's willingness to engage with Latinos. With less than three weeks until Super Tuesday, and Hispanics not pleased with President Obama's deportation policies , Latino officials are encouraging the GOP candidates to reach out before it's too late.
Electoral history shows Latinos overwhelmingly support Democrats, but Obama's lack of action on comprehensive immigration reform has LULAC and other Hispanic partners begging for some "sweet talk" from the GOP.
"I don't think Mr. Obama is doing anything. We want to hear from the Republicans," says Moran. "Sadly, some have attempted to engage the Hispanic electorate through superficial rhetoric; others have dismissed the Hispanic vote altogether."
The 2010 census revealed 50.5 million Latinos live in the United States, making them the largest minority population in the country and a critical voting block during the 2012 election, especially in swing states like Florida and Colorado. [Ron Paul Resonates with Latino Voters in Florida.]
"Latinos can decide the presidential election. Latinos can decide the future of the nation," says Hector Sanchez, the Executive Director of the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement. "They need us to win the White House."