McCain was the only GOP candidate to accept an invitation for a Republican debate on Univision.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - The Democratic presidential candidates face off tonight in Miami, and that could be bad news for the Republicans. The Democratic White House hopefuls are taking part in a Spanish language presidential forum at the University of Miami which is expected to focus on Hispanic and Latino issues. The forum is being sponsored and will air on Univision, the largest Spanish language television network in the U.S.
A similar forum with the GOP Presidential candidates was supposed to take place next Sunday night. But only one of the Republican candidates, Senator John McCain of Arizona, accepted the invitation. That forum has been cancelled, although Univision hopes it can reschedule with the Republican candidates.
Most of the GOP Presidential hopefuls also skipped two other major Hispanic and Latino conferences, The National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials and the National Council of La Raza. Most of the Democratic White House hopefuls showed up at those two events.
Hispanics are one of the nation’s largest minority and the fastest growing minority as well. And they play a larger and larger role in American politics with each election.
President Bush made major gains with such voters from his first election in 2000 to his re-election in 2004. But those gains were erased in last year’s midterms. The reason appears to be the Republican Party’s image as anti-immigration.
“According to the exit polls, immigration was more important to Latino voters in 2006 than to voters of any other race, and 70% of the Latinos who cared about immigration voted Democratic. If both of those trends hold up in 2008, that could be very bad news for the Republicans,” says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.
A bill that would have given some illegal immigrants here in the United States a pathway to citizenship went down in flames earlier this summer. All four Democratic senators running for President voted for the bill. Other Democratic White House candidates, such as New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, who’s hoping to become the nation’s first Latino President, opposed the bill because it would have divided families trying to come to the U.S.
But other than McCain, just about all of the GOP Presidential contenders were dead set against the immigration reform plan. And while that’s music to conservatives, it could hurt Republican chances of keeping control of the White House.
- CNN Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser