The Obama campaign’s willingness to reach out to Latinos and African-Americans, two ethnic groups vital to the president’s chances of reelection, was clearly on display Wednesday.
In an interview with Fernando Espuelas that aired on Univision Radio, the president stressed his support for immigration reform and sought to connect his broader priorities to the needs of Latinos.
The president even cited relatively obscure administration decisions that might hold particular appeal to Latinos.
For instance, he noted that his administration is “expanding” the port in Jacksonville, Fla., and that “Florida obviously is a gateway for a lot of shipping into Latin America.”
Earlier in the day, Iowa’s biggest newspaper, the Des Moines Register, released a transcript of an interview Obama had given, initially off the record, on Tuesday.
In the interview, the president pledged to “get immigration reform done.” He also asserted in unusually stark terms that Latino dissatisfaction with the GOP would elevate his chances of prevailing on Election Day.
“I will just be very blunt: Should I win a second term, a big reason I will win a second term is because the Republican nominee and the Republican Party have so alienated the fastest-growing demographic group in the country, the Latino community,” he said.
Also on Wednesday, Obama held a conference call with about 50 radio DJs, most of whom are African-American, during his time on Air Force One between campaign stops in Iowa and Colorado.
According to pool reports, his campaign spokeswoman, Jen Psaki, said that the president had encouraged the DJs to urge their listeners to register and to vote — early, if possible.
The president and first lady have given a number of interviews throughout his first term to broadcasting and print outlets that cater primarily to African-Americans. A photo of the couple adorns the current cover of Ebony magazine, for instance, bearing the headline: “At home with the Obamas: An intimate conversation with our president.”
Obama’s campaign also sent out an email appeal from noted author and poet Maya Angelou that had special resonance for black voters.
Angelou invoked the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the painful recollections of poll tests that were used to disenfranchise black Americans in the Jim Crow South in her message, which highlighted the importance of Obama's supporters’ exercising their right to vote.
The president is near-certain to receive overwhelming support from black voters and heavy backing from Hispanics this year. Exit polls from 2008 indicate that he won 95 percent of African-American votes and 67 percent of Latino votes.
Republicans claim that Obama will suffer from a drop-off in enthusiasm among these groups. They suggest that African-Americans will not be as passionate about Obama’s second run for office as they were in the push to elect the nation’s first black president in 2008.
And Obama’s failure to enact comprehensive immigration reform could hurt him with Hispanics. Minority groups have also been hit especially harshly by the ongoing economic troubles.
Still, Obama’s campaign is determined to do everything in its power to make sure the demographic groups that favor the president turn out in large numbers this year, in early voting and on Nov. 6.
Wednesday’s efforts represented just one more piece of that strategy.