LOOKING FOR SUPPORT: Presumptive Democratic Party presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), met with members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus in an effort to shore up support from members who had largely backed other candidates during the primaries. The fact that a majority of Hispanic members of Congress had initially supported other presidential candidates would not be an issue, assured Rep. Hilda Solís (D-Calif.), who had backed former Vermont governor Howard Dean.
"We've come to a point where we have to turn over our support because Kerry is now the nominee. I saw what Dean did to get more people energized and involved in the electoral process, and I'm sure Kerry will do the same. In fact [Kerry and Dean] have vowed to work together to make the Kerry presidential bid a success, and those of us who backed Dean are all solidly behind Kerry. We are all going to join forces and get behind him and the principles he has adopted on immigration, education, healthcare, the environment. We see eye-to-eye on many issues."
Added Rep. Grace Napolitano (D-Calif.), "We gave him a list of the issues we have been working on, and what we would like him to take up in the campaign, such as education and immigration, and we talked about what kind of role we as Hispanic members of Congress and as representatives of the Hispanic community can play in the campaign."
Rep. Solís believes Kerry has "an excellent chance" of garnering Hispanic votes and defeating President Bush. "The best thing that Bush did was take his time in destroying the Hispanic community with his policies, and I feel that we are stronger, more united, and more willing to fight to defeat the president."
Republican leaders take issue, however, saying the president has been focused on the Latino community. "The president is the one out there who has an agenda to create jobs in this country, that we are improving our public schools, that we're making healthcare more affordable," Republican National Committee chair Ed Gillespie told HB. "Those are issues that resonate strongly in the Hispanic community."
NEWEST ARRIVAL: Rep. J. Gresham Barrett(R-S.C.), has joined the Congressional Hispanic Conference as an associate member, bringing a small business background to the group. Barrett, who serves on the House budget and financial services committees, is the 12th member of the conference, which is chaired by Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla).
NOT LEAVING: Puerto Rico gubernatorial candidate Anibal Acevedo Vila has "absolutely no plans" to resign his current position as Resident Commissioner – Puerto Rico's non-voting representative in the U.S. Congress – to run full-time for the island's highest elected office. "There is still a lot left for me to do in Washington to help Puerto Rico," Acevedo Vila said.
"There are many issues still left to discuss in this current legislative year that affect Puerto Rico and I need to be there." Acevedo Vila was elected to his current Washington post in 2000. "[Running for governor] is an intense campaign but there will be a shorter legislative session [in Washington], and that will allow me to do both," Acevedo Vila said.
AND SPEAKING OF PR: Sen. John Kerry, the Democratic Party's presumptive presidential nominee, has told Puerto Rico politicos that one of the first trips he would take as U.S. President is to the island. "A presidential trip would help eliminate the stigma felt by some residents that the United States doesn't care much about Puerto Rico," said Puerto Rico Senate Minority Leader Kenneth McClintock Hernandez. "The sight of Air Force One would have a dramatic impact." A Kerry trip would be the first presidential trek to the island since 1976, when then-President Gerald Ford briefly attended an economic summit. The last U.S. president to visit for an extended period of time was John Kennedy in 1961.
RICHARDSON NOT INTERESTED: New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson maintains that he is not considering being the vice president in a 2004 presidential ticket with presumptive Democratic Party candidate Sen. John Kerry, even if invited to join. "I love being governor of New Mexico, we've made a lot of progress. My job isn't finished yet, and I've only been governor a year," he recently said on CBS' Face The Nation. "You know, being governor is the best job in the world. I've said this before [on not being interested in the veep nod], but no one seems to believe me. I am very happy in my job."
View the latest Latino reaction to the Bush Immigration Policy
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