Democrats running for President address Latino Conference in Orlando
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07/02/07 Mitch E. Perry
WMNF Drive-Time News Monday | Listen to this entire show:

The collapse of an Immigration Bill in the Senate cheered many conservatives across the country last week, but the last laugh may be at the GOP’s expense.

That’s because the growing Latino Vote, which has been considered up for grabs, may tilt more Democratic in future elections.

Republicans did themselves no good this past weekend when all but 1 of the candidates for President blew off a major gathering of Latino elected officials meeting in Orlando.

Hilary Clinton was the first on the dais at the NALEO Conference – The National Association of Latino Elected Officials. She reflected on all what went wrong with the Immigration legislation, but ended her comments by saying that she supports what critics called “Amnesty”

Dennis Kucinich began his discussion on immigration by repeating his vow that if elected, he’d cancel NAFTA, the 1993 trade agreement between Mexico, Canada and the U.S. (roll tape#2 o.q.”in this country”)

John Edwards said he believe that there should be harsher penalties on employers for hiring undocumented workers, and that there should be tougher enforcement on the Southern U.S. Mexican border. But he said that the bill that just died made it far too difficult for those undocumented to get a path to citizenship (roll tape#3 o.q. “ . are Southern border”)

Next up was Illinois Senator Barack Obama said the U.S. was a nation of laws and immigrants, and he explained why he voted last year for the creation of a 700 mile fence along the border – a move that it not favored by immigrant rights advocates (roll tape#4 o.q.” I don’t believe that”)

Obama said he was disappointed that the legislation went down to defeat, despite its flaws. He also said he was disappointed by the tone of the conversation around the bill (roll tape#5 o.q.”the politics of hope”)

Delaware Senator Joe Biden joined Obama in decrying the nature of debate regarding immigration (roll tape#6 o.q.”it’s wrong”)

And Biden was passionate in defending those who cross the border illegally from Mexico (roll tape#7 o.q.”I would too”)

Last month, Immigration & Customs Enforcement arrested 31 people in New Haven, Connecticut for being undocumented. That state’s Democratic Senator Chris Dodd, called that ‘tragic’ referring to the separation those arrests have caused between parents and children (roll tape#7 o.q. “that we ought to be conveying”)

Last up was the only candidate with actual Latino roots, New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson. Called out the American media , and the images that run on television when discussing illegal immigration (roll tape#8 o.q.”that has died for this country”)

The only Democrat running for President who did not show up in Orlando is former Alaskan Senator Mike Gravel. The only Republican who did was California Congressman Duncan Hunter. Special thanks to WMNF reporter Jadira Caro for providing the audio for this story.

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