"Mi gente, mi familia" -- my people, my family.--Bill Richardson.
Hillary Rodham Clinton took a jab at a potential GOP candidate, while her fellow Democratic presidential hopefuls joined her in addressing topics such as immigration, the war in Iraq, education and health care in a forum hosted by Latino elected officials Saturday.
All of the major Democratic presidential candidates were in Central Florida for a question-and-answer session sponsored by the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials.
Of the GOP candidates, only California Rep. Duncan Hunter accepted the group's invitation to speak....
With the failure of an immigration reform bill in the Senate still fresh, all the candidates vowed to pursue comprehensive immigration reform in the future. All said they support a path to citizenship for the 12 million immigrants living illegally in the U.S.
During one response, Clinton took a swipe at a potential GOP presidential rival, former Sen. Fred Thompson, for suggesting illegal Cuban immigrants pose a terrorist threat. "I was appalled when one of the people running for or about to run for the Republican nomination talked about Cuban refugees as potential terrorists," Clinton said. "Apparently he doesn't have a lot of experience in Florida or anywhere else, and doesn't know a lot of Cuban-Americans." Thompson, who is polling strongly among GOP primary voters and is expected to join the race soon, made the comment at a campaign stop Wednesday in South Carolina criticizing an immigration bill in the Senate, contending it would make the country more vulnerable to terrorism.
Biden drew applause when he noted that as many as 40 percent of illegal immigrants were not Hispanic. "It's a race to the bottom -- who out there can be the most anti-Hispanic," Biden said of the immigration debate. "Why is it we only view it through the prism of Spanish-speaking people?"
Former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards informally revised his well-known treatise "The Two Americas," saying there were actually three -- rich, working-class and illegal immigrants. "I believe we should have one America, no matter who your family is or where you were born," he said.
Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd, fully bilingual from his days as a Peace Corps volunteer in the Dominican Republic, cracked up the crowd when he told them, in Spanish, "I'm the only Gringo in the Senate" to speak the language.Dodd also noted that only 10 percent of college students are Latinos. Intervention must begin at a young age, especially for lower-income children, and should carry through high school if necessary, he said.
Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich, saying he believed all American children should learn to speak Spanish, gave his closing statement in Spanish.
New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson won cheers from the audience as the first Hispanic candidate to run for president. He, too, spoke Spanish to the crowd, calling them "Mi gente, mi familia" -- my people, my family.
"I'm not running as a Latino candidate. I'm running as an American governor who is enormously proud to be Latino," he told supporters.
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