Obama's Shift On Immigration And The Latino Vote
NEAL CONAN, HOST:
This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington. Forty years after Watergate, President Obama cites executive privilege. Rubio's out that he's in again, and after baseball phenom Bryce Harper leads off, Harry Reid hits second. It's Wednesday and time for a...
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: That's a clown question, bro...
CONAN: Edition of the Political Junkie.
PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN: There you go again.
VICE PRESIDENT WALTER MONDALE: When I hear your new ideas, I'm reminded of that ad: Where's the beef?
SENATOR BARRY GOLDWATER: Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice.
SENATOR LLOYD BENTSEN: Senator, you're no Jack Kennedy.
PRESIDENT RICHARD NIXON: You don't have Nixon to kick around anymore.
SARAH PALIN: Lipstick.
GOVERNOR RICK PERRY: Oops.
PRESIDENT GEORGE BUSH: But I'm the decider.
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CONAN: Every Wednesday, political junkie Ken Rudin joins us to recap the week in politics. Congress heads to the brink on transportation and student loans, a tough week for the attorney general. George LeMieux jumps out of the GOP Senate primary in the Sunshine State. John Kerry will play Romney's part in presidential debate prep, and we'll look ahead to next week, when congressional veterans Charlie Rangel and Orrin Hatch face primary fights.
In a few minutes, we'll focus on the battle for Latino votes as the president and the Republican candidate head to Orlando to address the National Association of Latino Elected Officials. Later in the program, "The Revisionaries," a new documentary on the ideological struggle over textbooks in Texas. But first, as usual, political junkie Ken Rudin joins us here in Studio 3A, and as usual, we begin with a trivia question. Are you feeling better, Ken?
KEN RUDIN, BYLINE: Nope. I mean, yes. Hi, Neal. OK, well, the trivia question is: Well, the two longest-serving African-American congressmen in history are in danger of losing their seats this year. Charlie Rangel, who was represented Harlem since 1971, has been redistricted and is in trouble, could be in trouble in next Tuesday's primary. And John Conyers of Detroit, he was first elected in 1964, he could lose his primary in August, and because of population changes, he could lose to a white candidate, which somehow leads to the trivia question.
CONAN: Eventually, yeah.
RUDIN: By the way, Neal has fallen asleep during this introduction. Of all the current members of the Congressional Black Caucus, who was the last one who came to the House by beating a white incumbent?
CONAN: If you think you know the answer to this week's trivia question, of current members of the Congressional Black Caucus, the last to come to the House by defeating a white incumbent, give us a call, 800-989-8255. Email is email@example.com. And of course the winner gets a fabulous political junkie no-prize T-shirt, eventually and in exchange for a promise to take a picture of him or herself wearing it.
RUDIN: Or both.
CONAN: Or eventually, to post on our wall of shame. So we try to begin with actual votes when we can. No primaries yesterday, but a House committee is set to vote on a contempt citation for Attorney General Eric Holder.
RUDIN: Yes, and of course Democrats are saying this is all political, and it may be political, but the Republicans, and this is the House Oversight Committee, led by Darrell Issa of California, and he's been trying to get documents from the attorney general on the Fast and Furious plan, this was the administration's plan of I guess sending guns into Mexico...
CONAN: And tracking how they go.
RUDIN: And trying to track them, but of course some of them were used in crimes. And today, of course, the House has been threatening a contempt citation, contempt of Congress, and they still may vote that, the committee may vote on that today. But this morning, President Obama said uh-uh, executive privilege, I am not releasing the communications about the decisions that went into these policy decisions.
CONAN: Do these contempt citations for members of the Cabinet, do they ever go anywhere?
RUDIN: Well, sometimes the Cabinet members ultimately acquiesce and release the documents. Sometimes, because the president says executive privilege, it just dies right there. But that may not stop the Republican committee from voting today, and it may not even stop the full House, the Republican-led house, from voting it. But other than that, as you say, it doesn't go beyond that.
CONAN: In the meantime, you have Congress hanging fire on two issues, which could have real effects on people, the transportation bill, people could be losing their jobs as states cut back on federally funded projects; and the student loans, if they don't act, those loans - the rates on those loans double I think at the end of this month.
RUDIN: Right, well, both expire June 30, and both - I mean, the Congress is known for playing the game of chicken to the end, but it seems like on the transportation bill - I mean the highway bill, this is talking about road and mass transit. They're talking about they will get a deal done, and it may be as soon as this week, as early as Friday.
They have since - since the last transportation bill expired in 2009, there has been nine extensions to keep pushing it over and pushing it off, and it looks like both parties - both House Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Harry Reid on the Senate side - they will come up with a deal this week. So I think both that and the student loans look like it's going to happen this week.
CONAN: And the contempt citation, you'd think that would be bad enough, but it's a terrible week for the attorney general as his aides swing and miss as Roger Clemens.
RUDIN: Well, yeah, and, I mean, whatever you think about Roger Clemens, and we said this also about John Edwards, whatever you think about John Edwards, the point is that this was a very expensive and very prolonged investigation, trying to convict both John Edwards on campaign finance charges and Roger Clemens about lying to Congress, both of whom if had they been convicted would have gone to prison for a maximum of like 30 years.
And again, I'm not going to hold any brief for John Edwards' personal behavior, and even though I am a Yankees fan, but Roger Clemens has never been my favorite, but the point is going to prison for 30 years, lying to Congress, it just seems a little bit much, and it was kind of a black eye for the Justice Department.
CONAN: In the meantime, there was a report that Marco Rubio, the freshman senator from the state of Florida, was - who some considered a possibility for vice presidential choice on the GOP side, that he was ruled out of the running, well, Mr. Romney put - quashed that speculation.
MITT ROMNEY: The story was entirely false. Marco Rubio is being thoroughly vetted as part of our process.
CONAN: And so I think that's - he is now.
RUDIN: This is so silly, because what happened was ABC News and the Washington Post reported earlier this week that Marco Rubio wasn't on the short list, He wasn't being vetted. Now, the fact is - especially with the fact that Mitt Romney is speaking to NALEO, the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials, tomorrow in Orlando...
CONAN: And more about that later.
RUDIN: Yes, and the importance of the Latino vote, you don't want to rule off somebody - you know, cross off somebody before you even got to the list yet. But the problem for this is if Mitt Romney says no, Marco Rubio's on the list, what happens about everybody else they ask about? Is he going to have to deny or affirm whether they're still potential VPs?
CONAN: Well, except for the possibility of Mitch Daniels, who would rather be president of Purdue.
RUDIN: Of Purdue, and that's what it looks like is going to happen, and it looks like he was not going to be considered for VP anyway.
CONAN: In the meantime, we have some people on the line who think they know the answer to this week's trivia question.
RUDIN: Which was what?
CONAN: Which was the last member of the current Congressional Black Caucus to defeat a white incumbent to get to the House of Representatives.
RUDIN: That's right, I remember.
CONAN: It is 800-989-8255, email is firstname.lastname@example.org. And we'll start with Albert(ph), Albert is with us from Lake Havasu City in Arizona.
ALBERT: Yes, I was going to guess Maxine Waters.
RUDIN: Maxine Waters, if memory serves, she succeeded Melvin Diamally(ph) in California in 1992. So but anyway, she replaced a retiring African-American incumbent. She didn't beat a white incumbent.
CONAN: Thanks for the call. Let's see if we can go next to - this is Polly(ph), Polly with us from Carolina Beach in North Carolina.
POLLY: Hi, it's a complete guess, and it's only because he's from Minnesota that I thought maybe it was him, I think he's from Minnesota, Keith Ellison.
RUDIN: Keith Ellison is from Minnesota, but when he was elected, I think it was a white incumbent who retired. I believe it was Martin Sabo, Sabo, but he didn't defeat an incumbent, he was elected in an open seat where a white retired.
CONAN: Thanks very much, appreciate the call, Polly. Let's go next to - this is Leon(ph), Leon with us from Winnsboro, South Carolina.
LEON: Is it Representative John Lewis from Georgia?
RUDIN: No, John Lewis, again when Wyche Fowler, a white incumbent, was elected - a Wyche was elected to the Senate, John Lewis defeated Julian Bond, but it was an open seat when he won it in 1986.
CONAN: Been there quite a while, though. Thanks very much, and let's go to Tim(ph) and Tim with us from Miami.
TIM: Yeah, hi, Neal. It's Congressman Alan West from District 22.
RUDIN: Alan West is correct.
CONAN: Ding, ding, ding.
RUDIN: Alan West, Republican elected in 2010, defeated Ron Klein in the general election, Alan West one of the two black Republicans in the House.
CONAN: So if I can figure out how to put you on hold, Tim, we will collect your particulars and arrange to send you a future political junkie no-prize T-shirt in exchange for your promise of a digital image of yourself wearing it so we can post that on our wall of shame.
TIM: Great, thank you, Neal.
CONAN: All right.
RUDIN: Neal, don't you want to know that - aren't you fascinated that I know who everybody succeeded in the House?
CONAN: No, I know you know.
RUDIN: OK, because I was being fascinated as I was listening to myself.
CONAN: You usually fascinate yourself. It's sort of an interesting process. In the meantime, we have some things to look forward to next week. We mentioned that - another member of the Congressional Black Caucus, and that's Charlie Rangel. He's been redistricted, that old Adam Clayton Powell seat in Harlem no longer the shape it once was.
RUDIN: Well, it used to - when he beat Adam Clayton Powell in 1970 - and Powell was in the House for 26 years, Rangel's been in there for 42 years, but when he won, when Charlie Rangel won in 1970, it was three-quarters African-American. Now it's only one-third black. Most of it is Puerto Rican and Dominican, and the guy he's running against, this main opponent, would be - he's a state senator. If elected, he would be the first Dominican-American elected to Congress.
Charlie Rangel is in trouble, but again you can't count him out.
CONAN: And he of course had the citation.
RUDIN: He was censured by the House in 2010, absolutely.
CONAN: In the meantime, a very different race in Utah.
RUDIN: Yes, it was - it's called the white race, and that race is Orrin Hatch, who's been in the Senate since - you've got to see Neal's face again - since 1976. He has been accused by Tea Party conservatives as being insufficiently conservative, but he's kind of moved to the right last couple years. He's facing a guy named Dan Liljenquist in next Tuesday's primary.
But most Republicans seem to think that unlike Dick Luger who didn't learn the lesson, Orrin Hatch did, and he will be re-nominated, but it's something to watch.
CONAN: And before we leave New York entirely, there's another Congressional race out there, Ed Towns.
RUDIN: Ed Towns is retiring, also a member of the black caucus. But there is a primary between two African-Americans, one of whom has expressed support for Moammar Gadhafi, accused of being anti-Semitic. It's kind of a tough race in Brooklyn. It's the kind of thing that Brooklyn politics is not unused to.
CONAN: Also primaries next week in Oklahoma and in Colorado, as it happens. We will be in Colorado next week, at the Aspen Ideas Festival, and Vin Weber and Anna Greenberg will be joining us as we start duking it out.
RUDIN: I could use two Aspens right now.
CONAN: Oh, that's very good, Ken, very good. In the meantime, there was an interesting incident last Friday in the Rose Garden, as President Obama was trying to make his announcement on immigration and the reform, said - we're going to be talking about it a little bit in the next segment. A reporter for the Daily Call interrupted him, very bad form.
RUDIN: Well, it was a very unusual. Neil Monroe, who is a columnist or who works for the Daily Caller, that's the conservative website run by Tucker Carlson, Monroe said that he thought President Obama was finishing his statement and shouted out a question, but of course the president was not finishing a statement, and the president was not too pleased.
CONAN: Stay with us. We're going to be focusing on the Latino vote, which was in many ways the subject of that presidential news conference in the Rose Garden on Friday. Mitt Romney and President Obama want support from Latinos. So what would get your vote, Latinos, if you're listening? 800-989-8255. Email us, email@example.com. Stay with us. I'm Neal Conan. It's the TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News.
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CONAN: This is TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News. I'm Neal Conan. Ken Rudin is back, our Political Junkie. He joins us most Wednesdays. And Ken, you were away last week, so two ScuttleButton winners?
RUDIN: Right, and two T-shirts that we don't have, we will be sending out.
RUDIN: But the - two weeks ago the ScuttleButton answer was "Hogan's Heroes," and the correct - the winner was Patrick Hirogoyan(ph).
CONAN: He tunneled his way out.
RUDIN: He did indeed, Patrick Hirogoyan of St. Paul, Minnesota. And the following week was "Snow White and the Huntsman." Guess what button I used for Huntsman? And the winner there was Luigi DeGuzman(ph) of Fairfax, Virginia.
CONAN: And another T-shirt to give out, and this one is to an emailer who also got Alan West, at the same time we got our call, so two winners this week. So this is - Chris Kenny(ph) from Tampa, Florida, will be getting a T-shirt eventually.
CONAN: The latest ScuttleButton puzzle and of course Ken's Political Junkie column...
RUDIN: It's a quick(ph) puzzle this week.
CONAN: Is it? OK, that's unusual. Both online at npr.org/junkie. President Obama launched the latest salvo in the political battle for the hearts and minds of Latino voters Friday, as we mentioned, with his decision to allow some undocumented immigrants to avoid deportation, a move some called an overstep of presidential authority. To others it didn't go nearly far enough.
House Speaker John Boehner expressed concern over the move and complained it makes it even more difficult to get to a permanent solution.
REPRESENTATIVE JOHN BOEHNER: Well, I think the president's announcement on immigration is - it puts everyone in a difficult position.
CONAN: And other Republicans blasted the president for what they called a transparent bid for Latino votes. That battle was well underway when the president - gaining the endorsement of popular Univision talk show host Cristina Saralegui.
CRISTINA SARALEGUI: (Speaking Spanish)
CONAN: And that part of - one a series of Spanish-language ads released by the Obama campaign this week. We want to hear from Latino voters in this segment. What would get your vote? 800-989-8255. Email us, firstname.lastname@example.org. We're joined here in Studio 3A by Ruy Teixeira, senior fellow at the Century Foundation and the Center for American Progress. Nice to have you back on the program.
RUY TEIXEIRA: Good to be here.
CONAN: And joining us by smartphone, Mario Lopez, president of the Hispanic Leadership Fund, an advocacy organization that promotes limited government, individual liberty and free enterprise, and welcome to TALK OF THE NATION.
MARIO LOPEZ: Thank you for having me on.
CONAN: And Ruy, let's begin with you. What did the immigration initiative announcement do for the president?
TEIXEIRA: Well, I think it's pretty clear what it did for the president. He's been running quite far ahead among Hispanic voters, relative to Romney. Obama won these voters by 36 points in 2008. He's running, you know, 36, 40, 45 points ahead in typical polls. But the worry has always been, will these voters show up? That's really the issue.
There seemed to be a relatively lack of enthusiasm for putting that lean - that leaning into action by actually showing up in November. That's what they were worried about. This mini-DREAM Act, I think, is designed exactly to arouse that kind of enthusiasm among Hispanic voters so they do show up.
CONAN: And Mario, the president was in trouble with at least some Latino leaders for not going far enough on immigration reform, as he promised to do during his election campaign in 2008.
LOPEZ: Well, I think that's right, and I think that, you know, the point was brought up about a lack of enthusiasm among Hispanic voters, and I think that there are a few points to be made for that lack of enthusiasm. I mean, he broke his promise to address immigration reform in the first year of his presidency. We have 11 percent Hispanic unemployment, which is much higher - it's I think over two points higher than that for the general population.
He has - his administration has a record number of deportations, now 1.2 million and counting. So there are a variety of reasons why there's been a lack of enthusiasm for - among Hispanics for the president.
CONAN: In the meantime, Ruy Teixeira, Mitt Romney, the GOP candidate, has yet really to address this immigration initiative.
TEIXEIRA: Yes, he has yet to say much about it. He much prefers the message the economy is bad, I will fix it - Obama, you know, doesn't know how to fix it. That's the Romney plan. And talking about anything else is much less comfortable for him. And he's going to be very uncomfortable dealing with this initiative on the part of the president in terms of this mini-DREAM Act.
He doesn't really have a comfortable thing to do. He can't really move toward endorsing it. He can't really say anything very dramatic on immigration reform because his base would kill him. So really in a sense what Obama has done is out-maneuver him.
This is a move that is actually popular with the public as a whole. A Bloomberg poll just came out that said 64 percent support the move by the president versus just 30 percent opposed, including two to one among independent voters. Among Latino voters, of course, it's overwhelming, and they say by 49 percent to 15 it's going to make them more enthusiastic about voting for Obama this November.
So that, you know, really puts Romney in an uncomfortable position. What does he do?
CONAN: And Mario Lopez, he's further entrapped by his own positions during the primary campaign, when he said - he really ran to the right of people like Rick Perry on the immigration issue.
LOPEZ: Yes, we were there sounding the alarm a long time ago and trying to make sure that all the candidates in the primary understood what the pitfalls are when dealing with this issue. Unfortunately at that time, Mitt Romney chose to take another direction, and now...
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CONAN: We're having a little trouble with our smartphone technology. We'll get Mario Lopez back on the phone in just a minute. Ken?
RUDIN: Well, I was going to say that, you know, if you listen to the segment, at the beginning of the segment, the soundbite we heard from John Boehner, speaker of the House, he said that he puts us, a lot of us, in a difficult position, and none more so than Mitt Romney because of anybody, I mean he's been accused over and over again of flip-flopping.
And so how does he - if he knows that the way to win states like Florida, Nevada, Colorado, states like that, is to make increases in the Latino vote, how do you do that given the rhetoric you heard during the primary debate? And I was going to ask Mario, if we can get him back, how he can do that without having to look like that flip-flopper that you heard so many Republicans accuse him of during the debates.
CONAN: And we should have him back up shortly. In the meantime, let's go to a caller. This is Nicholas, Nicholas with us from West Palm Beach.
NICHOLAS: Hi. So yes - I'm going to pretty much say what I think is the main issue in the Latino viewpoint of voting in this election, and that is that we didn't, as a voter group, immigrate from another place to give our children second-class citizenship. We are making a sacrifice - whatever, yes, it's true, and it's going to be tough, but for our kids we want the rights that are allowed for everyone else.
And I am voting against Romney to avoid that.
CONAN: OK, thanks very much for the call, Nicholas, appreciate it. Mario Lopez is back on the line, we apologize for our technical problems, and the question Ken wanted to ask, Mario - well, Ken, why don't you ask it again?
RUDIN: Well, I was just going to say that, you know, given the fact that he has been accused, Mitt Romney has been accused of flip-flopping through - you know, on so many social issues, he knows that to win states like Nevada, Colorado, New Mexico, he has to appeal and make the inroads into the Hispanic vote. How do you do that given all the rhetoric we heard during the debates?
LOPEZ: Well, I think that it was pointed out before, correctly, that I think he's going to try to focus as much as he can on jobs and the economy, and I think rightly so. But, as I said before, he is finding out on some of the pitfalls of these issues, I mean the facts are that this is dealing with kids, young people, who have not broken the law of their own volition.
And so it's completely, I think, justified to say, you know, look, you know, we don't punish kids for the transgressions of their parents, especially not kids who have earned their way into college or who are trying to go defend America by being in the military, et cetera.
So I think that he is in a bit of a bind, but so far he's taken the right tact, which was the Marco Rubio - echoing the Marco Rubio sentiments, which I think are accurate in the sense that this does make finding a long-term solution a lot harder. But you know, that's not something that we've seen that's been high on President Obama's priority list. What he cares first and foremost about is politics.
RUDIN: Mario, I notice one thing that the Republicans did not go out of their way of saying this week or last week was the A-word, amnesty. You heard it from some, but you didn't hear it from most. Is that a good sign?
LOPEZ: I think so. I mean I think that, you know, whether it's because of the political realities or, you know, whether it's because of something else, but I think that it's accurate. I mean, I think that one of the things that a lot of independent voters out there are hearing is every time something is proposed on immigration, it's just everything's amnesty. And I think that that's not exactly intellectually honest to say that, you know, no matter what it is that you propose, anything to streamline the legal immigration process is amnesty.
That's clearly not the case, and so we've been encouraged - you know, at sort of the measured responses so far.
CONAN: Let's go Francisco(ph) on the line, Francisco calling from Miami.
FRANCISCO: Hi, good afternoon.
CONAN: Good afternoon.
FRANCISCO: I would fall in the category of Hispanic voter, and I just want to comment that as a voter, I feel that Obama, President Obama, is definitely pandering to us. But, you know, that being said, you know, with a dysfunctional Congress and no meaningful solutions coming from Congress, I have to support him in what he does. Right now, we're in a situation where, I think, Obama's executive order has and will open a lot of doors to a lot of immigrants who would otherwise not have any opportunity to advance in this country. And talking from personal experience, I think that executive order is going to, you know, open a lot of doors for a lot of people.
CONAN: Francisco, do you consider yourself a Republican or a Democrat?
FRANCISCO: I'm actually a registered Republican. You know, I vote on issues, not on - not upon party line.
CONAN: OK. Thanks very much for the phone call. Appreciate it.
CONAN: And, Ruy Teixeira, Ken named a number of states, I think New Mexico, Colorado, Nevada where the Latino vote will be critical. It could be elsewhere too - Arizona maybe; at the outside, Florida.
TEIXEIRA: Right. Well, let's run down those lists of states. New Mexico, obviously, the Hispanic vote is huge. It's literally 42 percent of eligible voters there. On the other hand, New Mexico is probably not on high in the list of competitive states. I think Obama is highly likely to carry it. But then when you start getting into Nevada and Colorado and Florida, obviously, these are, you know, all very competitive states. Nevada and Colorado, you have a very rapidly increasing Hispanic population.
According to the latest data, census data I've been looking at, it's been increasing at the level of one percentage point a year, so there could be four points more eligible voters in the voter pool in both Nevada and Colorado this coming election. They were last election. That's huge. So, you know, Hispanics loom very large there. They loom very large in Florida. As we know, they're about 18 percent of eligible voters. And if you look at Arizona, that's 24 percent of the voters there, eligible voters there are Hispanics.
And, you know, there is the place in the United States where Hispanics have been increasing the fastest, five points more eligible voters this election than the previous election. So, you know, it's not an easy lift for Obama, but it's not out reach, either.
CONAN: And in Florida, we think of the Cuban community in Florida, yet they are a smaller percentage of the Latino vote than previously.
TEIXEIRA: That's right. Every year, it gets less. If you look at the growth in Latino population in Florida, it's entirely for non-Cuban Latinos. So as time goes by, the stereotype of a conservative Florida Hispanic voter becomes less and less applicable.
CONAN: That is Ruy Teixeira, who is with us from the Century Foundation and the Center for American Progress. Also with us, Mario Lopez, president of the Hispanic Leadership Fund, an advocacy organization that promotes limited government, individual liberty and free enterprise. Of course, political junkie Ken Rudin is with us as well. You're listening to TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News. Ken?
RUDIN: Ruy, let me ask you a question. You have established and we have established the fact that what - President Obama's change-of-heart policy on deportations is very popular. Is it cynical to say that this speech he made came a week before the NALEO conference where tomorrow Mitt Romney speaks to the group and President Obama speaks to them on Friday and this comes, of course, after record deportations by the same administration?
TEIXEIRA: Yeah. I mean, the exact timing of it I can't really speak to. I mean, that might be a factor, but I assure you they were - as you - I'm sure you believe and know it's been a huge worry on their part that the deportations record of the Obama administration would be something that would sort of cut the ground out a little bit from the enthusiasm of the Hispanic vote even though they are leaning so far in his direction. So he wanted to make a dramatic gesture that would show them that that's really not where he's coming from, that he really believes in the DREAM Act, he really believes in trying to move forward on immigration reform, and that he is in fact on their side.
And, you know, well, guess what? The other guy is not because the same poll I alluded to where it turned out Latinos were like, you know, markedly more enthusiastic about Obama now because of this move, they actually asked him about, well, what about Romney's position in immigration, self-deportation, you know, Arizona's a model. What does that make you feel about Romney? And so 59 percent said that make them - Latino voters said it made them less enthusiastic about voting for Obama.
So, you know, raising the profile...
CONAN: For Romney.
TEIXEIRA: So - of this - for Romney, excuse me. So, yeah, I think they know very well what they're doing here, and I think it's likely to prove pretty successful.
CONAN: And, Mario Lopez, let me turn to you. Given those figures for the growth of the Latino vote cited by Ruy Teixeira that was in several states to a lesser degree going on in other states as well. How does the Republican Party - as a party, we saw what happened in the last presidential primary as each candidate tried to outflank the other on the right on the immigration issue, how does the Republican Party start to turn around and appeal to that community?
LOPEZ: Well, I think the most important thing is sincerity, and, you know, I think that that applies to Republicans as well as to Democrats. I mean, we were talking about the cynicism just a second ago, and I think it's entirely appropriate to look at this move by President Obama with a cynical eye. I mean, just one year ago, he was saying that, you know, I really can't do this singlehandedly. You know, it's not my - in my authority. I need Congress to act. And now, he does exactly the same thing that he said he didn't have the authority to do. So either he was lying then or he's lying now. And either one, in my view, is unacceptable. [POST-BROADCAST CORRECTION: The president meant he could not sign a DREAM Act unless Congress passes it but specifically said he did have the authority to prioritize enforcement.]
The fact is that, you know, as a senator, I mean, going back to his days in the U.S. Senate, he voted for five different poison pill amendments to kill comprehensive immigration reform bill, the same bill that Republicans were criticized for not supporting. So I mean, I think that he's playing games with the immigration issue, and he's using Latinos as political pawns.
Unfortunately, he has a long history of doing that. And so what Republicans need to do is they need not just point that out but they need to step forward with positive solutions and really explain to Latino voters and to all voters why policies that are rooted in free enterprise and limited government are better and will ensure more prosperity and greater job creation and so forth.
CONAN: Let's see if we can squeeze one last caller in, and this is Hob(ph). Hob with us from Orange County in California.
HOB: Hi. Thank you for letting me voice my opinion. First, you know, it did discourage me as a Hispanic Latino voter. The reason is, you know, they keeping pooling us all Latinos, all Hispanics in the same pool like all of our parents came to this country illegally. You know, my parents went through the hardship of doing it the right way. I myself have served in the military, have fought for this country. And I feel that it's not right to do this because it creates more division for the other ethnicities and races within the country that are here.
And the reason be that we all have to compete for the same slots at school. We all have to compete for the same scholarships. It's not fair...
CONAN: I don't mean to cut you off, Hob, but we just have a few seconds left.
HOB: Well, I just want to say, you know, that this actually discouraged me, but I'm not going to vote for Romney because it's well-known that Mormonism, they believe that people are dark-skinned because God punished us. And right now, I have...
CONAN: They changed that policy a few years ago, but thanks very much for the phone call. We appreciate it. Our thanks also to Ruy Teixeira and...
TEIXEIRA: Happy to be here.
CONAN: ...Mario Lopez also your - thanks to you too. And, Ken Rudin, we'll see you next week in Aspen, Colorado, at the Aspen Ideas Festival. We look forward to that.
RUDIN: Buenos Aires.
CONAN: Up next, "The Revisionaries," a documentary film that focuses on the Texas textbook controversy and the teaching of evolution. Stay with us. I'm Neal Conan. It's the TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News.
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Correction June 21, 2012
During Wednesday's show on Latino voters, one of our guests said that President Obama had once claimed that he did not have the authority to issue an immigration waiver like the one he announced last week. The president meant he could not sign a DREAM Act unless Congress passes it but specifically said he did have the authority to prioritize enforcement.