Vice President Joe Biden called Hispanics the "most powerful force in American politics" when he spoke at the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute gala in Washington, D.C., Thursday night.
The 35th anniversary awards gala was a part of weeklong events that CHCI hosted as part of Hispanic Heritage Month.
"The contribution of the Hispanic community has been incredible, but you ain't seen nothing yet," Biden said, according to The Huffington Post.
Biden's appearance was confirmed on Sept. 11 by CHCI chairman Rep. Charles A. Gonzalez. House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi also spoke at the gala, according to the CHCI website.
This year's gala theme, "CHCI at 35: Keeping the Founders' Promise," pays tribute to CHCI's founders, whose unique vision has resulted in transformative programs that empower young Latinos.
"I'm here to say thank you, and tell you how much this great country owes you and how much more can be done with the infusion of new blood, of new ideas," Biden said, according to ABC News. "Ladies and gentlemen, you are about to become, and already have, the most powerful force in American politics. Exercise that power well, and the country will embrace you."
Emmy Award-winning Univision anchor Maria Elena Salinas was the event's celebrity host, and actor George Lopez received the 2012 CHCI Medallion of Excellence Award, while Dr. Alfredo Quiñones-Hinojosa was the Chair's Award Recipient.
About 2,000 people attended the CHCI gala, according to the organization's website.
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