In Tight Race, Both Parties Woo Latinos

In an election that promises to be tight, what's clear is that both parties are emphasizing their respective support of Latinos in the United States. One party showed off its Latino backing with the voice of Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida while the other featured the Democratic mayor of San Antonio, Julian Castro, as a keynote speaker. Those were just two in a long lineup of Latino speakers prominently featured by both sides. What's foremost in the minds of some is not the immediate effect of the Latino vote in the 2012 election but its impact beyond. Line up the Republican and Democrat platform side by side, and Latinos in the United States would tend to check off more boxes favorable to the Republicans' most prominent conservative views, said Gabriel Pilonieta Blanco, editor of El Tiempo Hispano, a bilingual, Spanish-English newspaper in the Philadelphia area. Since they tend to be practicing Catholics, "many [Hispanics] are against abortion and are pro-life," Pilonieta said. They don't tend to favor same-sex marriage either, he added. However, Pilonieta said, it's rare to encounter an active Republican Latino. Start talking about immigration and that's what will get the attention of a Latino voter most of the time, said Pilonieta. "It adds a lot and creates major sympathy toward [the Democrats]," he said. Tony Yapias, director of an immigration advocacy group, Proyecto Latino de Utah, in Salt Lake City, said the reason the immigration topic attracts Latinos has to do with the way the party addresses Latinos as a group. At the heart of the issue is whether each major political party makes Latinos feel welcome in their circles, he said. The Pew Hispanic Center found that among Hispanic voters registered so far in 2012, 42 percent are listed as Democrats, 37 percent as independents and 16 percent as Republicans. "Democrats have done a 100 percent better job" of treating Latinos as part of this country, said Yapias, who identifies himself as an independent voter.

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