But the Bush campaign also grasps the importance of the emerging English-language dominant electorate. "Remember that some Hispanics we reach through Spanish-language media, but we also reach them through general-market media," says Mr. Guerra. "It's everything from prime-time to local news and cable news. That's a key element of reaching the Hispanic voter in 2004 – it's not just Spanish-language, it's also English language."
Guerra DeBerry Coody doesn't handle the campaign's English-language advertising, but Mr. Guerra says he reviews the ads and offers comments. "Obviously, since Latinos are the largest minority group in the United States, they are going to play an important role in this election," Ms. Castillo concludes. "This president is committed to bringing his message of economic prosperity and national security to Latinos."
Although polls from the Pew Hispanic Center and Zogby give Mr. Kerry a 2-to-1 advantage over Mr. Bush among Hispanic voters, the Kerry campaign plans on "asking for every Latino vote out there," says Luis Elizondo-Thomson, director of Hispanic outreach. "We have a much more robust campaign than the Bush campaign – again, because this is about reaching all Latinos."
The July advertizing blitz focused on values that Mr. Kerry shares with Hispanics: "family, faith, and honor," according to Lorena Chambers, CEO of Chambers Lopez Gaitan, the Virginia-based agency handling Hispanic advertising for the campaign.
Going forward, Ms. Chambers plans advertising to address specific issues. Polls show education is the top priority for Hispanic voters this year. "Education is such a broad term – it includes funding for public schools, access to higher education – but it's an issue we plan to address in the next round," she says.
The economy offers another angle for building Kerry support. In August, the campaign published "Oportunidades," a bilingual report on Mr. Kerry's policy plans to help Hispanic entrepreneurs and job-seekers.
"Latino small-business owners are a segment that is growing exponentially. As chair of the small business committee in the Senate, it was one of his [Mr. Kerry's] top priorities, and it's a priority across the country," says Mr. Elizondo-Thomson. He notes that former SBA Administrator Aida Alvarez has campaigned on Mr. Kerry's behalf.
Besides television, the Kerry campaign has used extensive print advertising and what Mr. Elizondo-Thomson calls a "Latinos talking to Latinos" strategy. It includes phone centers staffed by Hispanics and letter-writing campaigns among Hispanics.
But perhaps the campaign's most innovative technique is a five-minute bilingual video for grass-roots organizers to use at events and home meetings. (To view the video, visit the Web at www.johnkerry.com/espanol.) The video features former HUD Secretary Henry Cisneros as narrator and other Latino officials who endorse Senator Kerry.
"We recognize that a majority of Latino voters are English-dominant," says Ms. Chambers. "We know there are language differences in our community, but we want every last Hispanic vote."
From now until November 2, both sides expect to go for broke. "In politics, you have to see where you are at the moment," explains Mr. Guerra. "You do long-term planning, but you have to respond to events."
For Mr. Segal, the sheer amount of activity showcases the Hispanic electorate's growing clout. "I'm an advocate for the community benefiting from the electoral process," he says. "A community that ignores one side or another in a close election could lose. A community that allows both candidates to take credit for victory has power. And power is what the Hispanic community needs in Washington."
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