Latinos, the fastest growing population in America, face
many of the same issues concerning other Americans, and Latino worries about
the 2008 presidential candidates are increasingly significant in the national
Democratic Sen. Paula Sandoval, 55, of Denver said the two
Democratic and one Republican candidate remaining in the race have individual
strengths, but it will be a difficult choice for the American people. She
states she does not know what she is getting herself into with Barack Obama,
although he is a great speaker with a lot of enthusiasm, and has managed to ignite
the support of a lot of people. Sandoval said Obama has been untested and
continues to cite Hillary Rodham Clinton’s and John McCain’s experience as
“Clinton and McCain have dealt with a lot of issues that
will come up with the new administration. Obama’s strength is he does not have
as much baggage,” she said. “When
you have been in public life a lot, people know how you vote on issues. It is
hard with him, because he has only been a senator for a few years, and when he
was, he did not take a stand on issues.”
Denver Councilman, Paul Lopez, 29, said he identified a lot
with the Illinois senator because like Obama, Lopez remembered people saying he
did not have experience and was too young. Lopez, like Obama, was a community
organizer before being elected to council, and so believes Obama to be the
candidate for change.
The councilman who was born and raised in Colorado said,
“Obama worked with Hispanics and African Americans when he served in the
Chicago community. He was also the co-sponsor of the Dream Act; allowing low-income
students to pay lower in-state tuition.”
Lopez said a president must be a leader with hope – “someone
who makes you feel like participating in anything. The change we need in this
country has to start with individual families. Anybody can participate. Obama
sees that change starting from neighborhood to neighborhood.”
For the 29-year-old councilman, change means shifting power
in America to the everyday working people, by giving them a strong voice and
putting them in the driver’s seat.
Obama – Pro-Immigrant Peacemaker
With immigration issues touching many in the United States
these days, Lopez pointed out that Obama understands what it is like to be a
son of an immigrant, because his father was one.
Although Dr. Richard Moreno, 76, is a staunch Obama
supporter, the former professor at Metropolitan State College thinks neither Obama
nor Clinton will make any big changes regarding immigration, but instead “talk
about peace, and building a fence here and there; whereas, McCain would be
adamant about building a big fence in less than a year to stop immigrants.”
Moreno is not sure where America will go from the point the
wall is built, but is optimistic it will be pulled down some day.
“But who knows, 100 years from now, that wall will
peacefully be taken down in a happy way, so that my children and your grandchildren’s
children could benefit from it,” he commented.
Moreno believes neither Hillary nor Obama say much in their
“I remember listening to Hillary at the Beijing Conference
for Women and thinking, ‘She is not saying anything.’ She is also doing it now;
a little history here and there, but no real true substance,” he said.
Moreno is sure that Clinton will only seek and listen to
rich corporations for advice. He feels that Obama can sit and analyze the former
professor’s problems if he knocked at the senator’s door at night.
Rene Martinez, 31, won’t make up his mind about whom to select
until he knows where both Obama and Clinton stand on most issues. He pointed to
Clinton as the only candidate who has spoken about the broader issues, and said
the advantage of having Hillary in the president’s office would be the end of
the corporate mentality of male rule in the U.S.
McCain – Pro-War, Bush Follower
Martinez, Moreno and Lopez shared the opinion that McCain, a
war veteran, will always think about war and not peace talks with other
countries as a solution to America’s problems.
Martinez believes Republicans are kind hearted, too,
although he perceives that McCain will do everything President Bush has, even
10 times more. Martinez, a native of El Paso, Texas agreed with Sandoval that
McCain who devoted time to immigration issues in the past has to gain a stand
about the topic again.
Lopez and Moreno disagree with McCain’s plan of keeping the
military in Iraq.
Lopez said, “There are issues on which I agree with John
McCain, but I want troops back home.”
Marcos Martinez, 18, Rene Martinez’ cousin, is more
interested in the economy. He said although it will take Clinton time to fix
Bush’s mess, she is the perfect candidate to change the declining economy.
Ramona Garcia, 27, knows very little about Clinton and Obama
and nothing about McCain. Garcia is a strong believer in Obama, because she
said he has a lot to offer and she can identify with him as a minority.
Since the working mother’s main concern is the education of
her children, Garcia zealously advocates for more educational funding for some
women, minorities and children – people she said do not yet know the importance
Clinton – Experienced, Skilled Leader
Jose Lopez, 28, who would love to see Clinton win the
presidential elections, can not vote. Though he is sure he could have made a
difference, he is not yet an American citizen.
“Females have a lot of power these days, so I think Clinton
can make a good candidate. I do not want Republicans to rule again because of
the Iraq war,” he said.
Moreno called Clinton articulate, charming and effective,
but noted that Obama works much better with extreme confrontation and tough
times. The former professor said it is to Obama’s advantage to avoid loyalty to
a specific group, unlike President Reagan who promised heaven on earth and got
the doctors’ votes, only later not to perform as promised.
Moreno said Obama would be able to talk about issues that
have been swept under the carpet for so long, and that Obama handles the race
Obama’s words help “people know that we are in a class
society, believe it or not,” the former professor said. “It is a contrast to
those who say; ‘oh well, we are all Americans, we should behave that way, just
let it go and move along.’”
Rene Martinez also believes Obama has a better chance of
uniting Blacks and Hispanic people and ending the many conflicts between them.
Sandoval vows to support Clinton whom she believes is in a
better position of meeting the Latino needs because of Clinton’s history of
meeting them. No matter who is selected as the Democratic candidate, the
Colorado senator promises to stay true to the party.
“The two candidates are so unique and deserve to be on one
ticket, but neither can pick the other as president,” she said. “The Democratic Party is showing a
split now and if we can not recover from that after the primary, Sen. McCain
will have a shot of becoming the next American president.”
Irrespective of siding with Clinton, Sandoval respects the
voters’ decisions and advises them not to get caught up in inspirational
campaign speeches, but look at the pros and cons of what a candidate stands
for, has done in the past and plans for the future.
Moreno notes that no matter who America chooses, it is not
easy for the candidate to change everything because of the powerfully placed
political system, but like Marcos Martinez, he agrees with everyone who takes
these elections seriously by voting.
Emily Mukasa is a regular contributor to the Denver Urban
Spectrum, writing about a broad range of issues from politics to culture. You
can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.