CBS’s Maggie Rodriguez Hosts La Raza Conference

Maggie Rodriguez, CBS On Monday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Maggie Rodriguez reported from California and touted her role as emcee at the annual conference for the liberal Hispanic group La Raza: "The conference for the National Council of La Raza, the country's largest Hispanic civil rights and advocacy group. Yesterday I hosted the luncheon in San Diego where Senator Barack Obama spoke to a crowd of thousands. Later today I will host the one where Senator McCain will be speaking."

At the top of the show, Rodriguez teased the segment by proclaiming: " Both John McCain and Barack Obama are reaching out to this voting bloc. And ahead this morning I'll tell you the 45 million reasons why they both covet the Hispanic vote." Later during the segment Rodriguez continued to emphasize the importance of the Hispanic vote: "From coast to coast, in countless corners of American cities, the Latino influence is undeniable. Latinos are the largest minority in this country. 45 million strong and growing. By 2050 that number's expected to almost triple to 128 million. And a growing Latino population means more influence for Latino voters."

Following that observation, Rodriguez played a clip of Arturo Vargas, Executive Director of the National Association of Latino Elected Officials, praising past immigration protests in the Hispanic community: "In 2008 we're culminating on several years of activism and mobilization of the Latino community. Just look back two years ago, with the 2006 marches, where millions of people took to the streets, many of them young people, who said today we march, tomorrow we vote. Well, tomorrow has arrived."

Another person Rodriguez spoke to during the segment was the liberal Univision news anchor, Jorge Ramos, who declared: "Only about 500 Latino voters in Miami decided that George Bush and not Al Gore should be the next president. In the year 2004, if only 67,000 Latinos in Nevada, Colorado, and New Mexico would have voted for John Kerry instead of George Bush, John Kerry would have been the President of the United States."

Rodriguez interviewed Ramos on the "Early Show" in June and described how they were old friends: "And I have to say something, I know Jorge 15 years. I was a rookie reporter at Univision...And he was the anchor. Never did I imagine that one day I'd be here interviewing you. So it's a treat." During that interview, Rodriguez highlighted a question Ramos asked during a Democratic presidential debate in February:

Federal raids by immigration enforcement officials on homes and businesses have generated a great deal of fear and anxiety in the Hispanic community and have divided the family of some of the three million U.S.-born children who have at least one undocumented parent. Would you consider stopping these raids once you take office until comprehensive immigration reform can be passed?

At the end of that interview, Rodriguez asked Ramos about the role of Hispanic voters and Ramos replied: "Barack Obama and John McCain might have a Hispanic problem. They both voted for -- for the fence, or a wall between the United States and Mexico. And without Latinos nobody is going to get to the White House."

Here is the full transcript of the Monday July 14 segment:

7:01AM TEASER:

MAGGIE RODRIGUEZ: Thousands of Hispanic voters are attending conferences attended by both presidential candidates. That's why I'm here in Southern California. Both John McCain and Barack Obama are reaching out to this voting bloc. And ahead this morning I'll tell you the 45 million reasons why they both covet the Hispanic vote.

7:12AM SEGMENT:

MAGGIE RODRIGUEZ: I'm here in Southern California for the same reason the presidential candidates are. The conference for the national council of La Raza, the country's largest Hispanic civil rights and advocacy group. Yesterday I hosted the luncheon in San Diego where Senator Barack Obama spoke to a crowd of thousands. Later today I will host the one where Senator McCain will be speaking. This marks the third time in two weeks that the candidates are addressing Latino groups. It's proof that they both know, especially in a race as close as this, as Jeff Glor just reported, this voting bloc could be the key to the White House. From coast to coast, in countless corners of American cities, the Latino influence is undeniable. Latinos are the largest minority in this country. 45 million strong and growing. By 2050 that number's expected to almost triple to 128 million. And a growing Latino population means more influence for Latino voters.

ARTURO VARGAS: In 2008 we're culminating on several years of activism and mobilization of the Latino community. Just look back two years ago, with the 2006 marches, where millions of people took to the streets, many of them young people, who said today we march, tomorrow we vote. Well, tomorrow has arrived.

RODRIGUEZ: Though Latinos make up just 9% of the electorate. In swing states like New Mexico, 37% of voters are Hispanic. In Florida, 14%. And 12% in Colorado and Nevada. Voters in these states have decided the last two presidential elections.

JORGE RAMOS: Only about 500 Latino voters in Miami decided that George Bush and not Al Gore should be the next president. In the year 2004, if only 67,000 Latinos in Nevada, Colorado, and New Mexico would have voted for John Kerry instead of George Bush, John Kerry would have been the President of the United States.

RODRIGUEZ: Jorge Ramos, news anchor for Spanish language network Univision, says that's why John McCain and Barack Obama need to aggressively woo Hispanic voters. And they are, speaking to Latino audiences.

BARACK OBAMA: You hold this election in your hands.

RODRIGUEZ: Advertising specifically for Latinos.

JOHN MCCAIN: When you go to Iraq or Afghanistan today you're going to see a whole lot of people who are of Hispanic background.

RODRIGUEZ: And using influential surrogates, like L.A.'s Mexican-American mayor, Antonio Villaraigosa, a Barack Obama supporter.

ANTONIO VILLARAIGOSA: We have to go into every community all across the country, particularly in swing states.

RODRIGUEZ: Canvassing the country is only half the battle. Latino Leaders agree the candidates must also address the issues that matter to this diverse electorate.

RAMOS: Latinos are no different than other groups. So, the three most important Issues for Latinos are education, jobs, and health care. So it would be a huge mistake for Barack Obama and for John McCain to believe that we are all exactly the same. That we all come from Mexico and that we only care about immigration.

RODRIGUEZ: Barack Obama received a very warm reception at the luncheon yesterday and several standing ovations. And historically Latinos, most of them, do tend to vote Democratic. But Obama faces several hurdles. He's never been to Latin America. Latinos widely supported Hillary Clinton and not him in the primaries. And there have been tensions historically between Latinos and African-Americans. John McCain of course also faces hurdles, I will be speaking to him about that and other topics today after his speech with the council of La Raza.

Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC