In the aftermath of President Obama and Mitt Romney’s speeches at the annual NALEO (National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials) conference in Florida this week, PoliticsNation's Rev. Al Sharpton discussed how the president's ability to better connect with Latino voters could clinch swing states for him in November.
Obama’s speech on Friday was received much more warmly than his opponent’s. While Romney once said he would veto the DREAM Act, the president guaranteed his continued support for young illegal immigrants.
“I refused to keep looking young people in the eye, deserving young people, and telling them ‘tough luck,” he said about his recent executive order to stop the deportation of eligible illegals. “It was the right thing to do.”
Voter demographics are changing, Rev. Al explained. Between 2000 and 2010, the Hispanic populations in swing states have skyrocketed – in North Carolina, the Hispanic population grew 111%. In Iowa, it increased 84%, and in Pennsylvania, 83%.
In Florida, Obama is now leading Romney by 16 points among Latino voters. Sharpton asked Rod Smith, chairman of the Florida Democratic Party, how critical these changing demographics are to the politics of today.
Smith believes the implications are huge:
“In Florida, it’s going to be the decisive vote, I believe. As soon as I assumed the chairmanship of the party the first thing we did is we started our outreach to the Hispanic community, particularly in central Florida, where many people don’t realize that the margin of the last election is largely explained by the Hispanic turnout in central Florida. And I have to tell you, we are excited about the president’s efforts in recent days. He has really increased his stock here and everywhere else among Hispanic voters.
I have believed for quite some time that the two things we’ve got going for us in Florida is, if we increase our Hispanic turnout this time with the energy we had in 2008, and if we focus on the fact that Romney is actually telling our governor not to tout the economic comeback because it’s off message, those two things combined are making me very optimistic about this election.
Florida is going to be very close and I think it’s going to make the difference.”