Hoping to sway voters in a crucial demographic, both John McCain and Barack Obama will speak in July at a conference for the nation's largest Latino advocacy group, the National Council of La Raza. Its CEO, Janet Murguia, discussed the courtship with NEWSWEEK's Jamie Reno:
Polls show Obama ahead among Latinos, but weak among those born outside the U.S. Why?
I believe it's simply because they don't know Obama yet. He has a very positive record of working with Latinos in his home state. Now that he's the [likely] nominee, Latinos will look more closely at him.
There has been talk about the so-called black-brown divide in this country—that lingering tensions between African-Americans and Hispanic Americans could cost Obama votes.
There are some real tensions, and we should not ignore them. But ultimately, Latinos, like everyone else, will look at issues they care about and vote accordingly.
Sen. Robert Menendez has said McCain "walked away" from the Latino community on immigration. Do you believe that?
McCain needs to clarify his position. Many Latinos viewed him as someone strongly in favor of reform, [but] eyebrows were raised as he backed away from that positioning. Still, many Latinos will find McCain appealing and will want to honor his military service. Our community is very patriotic.