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(x-posted from the albany project)

I can understand why Wingnut Extraordinaire Tom Tancredo would skip a debate sponsored by Univision, the nation's largest Spanish language broadcaster (and fifth largest network overall) -namely that he's a single issue nutjob and that issue involves demonizing brown folks who speak Spanish. But, why on Earth is New York's Junior Senator skipping the debate, especially given that Hillary's campaign believe that they have the most to gain from engaging Hispanics in 2008? Seriously, what gives, Hillary?

Clinton tunes out Univision debate

Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton is going to turn down the Univision TV network's invitation to participate in what would be the first presidential debates to be conducted in Spanish, while the other major candidates are undecided.

Much more on the flip...

Only the two Democratic contenders fluent in Spanish, Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico and Sen. Chris Dodd of Connecticut, committed Wednesday to coming to the University of Miami for the debates.

The rest are checking their schedules, except for Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-Colo., an also-ran who made headlines last year by belittling Miami as a "third-world country."

"I can say with 100 percent certainty that we will not be attending," Tancredo spokesman Alan Moore said.


But Clinton spokesman Mo Elleithee said Wednesday the candidate plans to attend only the six debates sanctioned by the Democratic National Committee from July through January, when the primaries begin. Two of those debates will be simulcast by CNN in Spanish, while the two NBC-MSNBC debates will be rebroadcast in Spanish by the Telemundo network. ABC and NBC are broadcasting the other two forums.

"We encourage the Democratic National Committee and Univision to work together so that Univision will have a role in one of these debates," Elleithee said.

That's a dodge by the Clinton folks. It's also completely untrue given that Hillary has committed to the "candidate forum" hosted by PBS's Tavis Smiley as well as the NAACP forum on July 12 and also appeared at the Sojourners forum on faith and politics none of which are sanctioned by the DNC. So, what's going on here?

Given the often toxic debate on immigration taking place these days, Hispanics appear to be a key constituency for Democrats in 2008 and Clinton's people seem to know it.

There was an article in Saturday's New York Times talking about the "new clout" Hispanics seem to gaining with the 2008 Democratic presidential hopefuls:

Hispanic Voters Gain New Clout With Democrats

Helped by the fight over immigration, Democratic presidential candidates are courting Hispanic voters like never before, prompted by a string of early primaries in states with sizable Hispanic voting blocs.

It has forced candidates to hire outreach consultants, to start Spanish-language Web sites and to campaign vigorously before Hispanic audiences.

The battle for Hispanic voters is a result of the decision by several states with large Hispanic populations to move their presidential primaries to early 2008, including California, Florida and New York. Roughly two-thirds of the nation’s Hispanic residents live in nine of the states holding Democratic primaries or caucuses on or before Feb. 5.

So, Hispanics are energized by the immigration issue and appear to be lost to the Republicans pushing for nuttier and nuttier ways to appease their own base. Democrats have a real opportunity here to solidify a relationship with a huge and growing population that will become even more significant in the coming decades. According to the Times, Hillary seems best positioned to attract Hispanic voters in great numbers.

Sergio Bendixen, a pollster hired by Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton’s campaign to study Hispanic voting trends, said: "The Hispanic vote has never been all that important in the presidential primary process in the United States. But that will change in 2008."

At this early stage, Mrs. Clinton, a New York Democrat, appears best poised to benefit from the heightened Hispanic role in the primary process.

But she is the only confirmed "no", along with the nutjob Tancredo, to Univision debate. Plus, she seems to be lying about why she's ducking.

What gives, Hillary?

Originally posted to lipris on Mon Jun 11, 2007 at 09:17 AM PDT.

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