Clinton Eyes Support in the Rio Grande Valley Hillary Clinton is pinning her presidential hopes on a strong showing next month in Ohio and Texas. She may have no better stronghold in either state than among Hispanics in the borderlands of the Rio Grande Valley.
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Clinton Eyes Support in the Rio Grande Valley

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Clinton Eyes Support in the Rio Grande Valley

Clinton Eyes Support in the Rio Grande Valley

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From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.

The most populous state in the remaining presidential primaries will be Texas. Along with Ohio, it's the centerpiece of Hillary Clinton's comeback strategy. Both have primaries on March 4th, and one Clinton adviser, James Carville, says she has to win both of them or her campaign is done.

In Texas, Clinton is counting on support in the heavily Hispanic Rio Grande Valley.

NPR's David Greene has been traveling with the Clinton campaign. He spent a few days visiting some Rio Grande Valley hotspots.

DAVID GREENE: Hillary Clinton loves to talk about her Rio Grande Valley roots, she was down here along the border 35 years ago registering Latino voters. And when she came back this week she was all over the tube.

(Soundbite of TV news broadcasts)

Unidentified Woman: Senator Hillary Clinton's South Texas campaign is in full swing at this hour.

Unidentified Man: (Speaking in foreign language)

Unidentified Group: Beat(ph) Barack Obama.

GREENE: The next day, those headlines are not the big talk at Keno Cafe. Raymond Gonzalez has a lot on his plate.

Mr. RAYMOND GONZALES (Texas Resident): It's called a "quickie." And it's got fries and there's a hamburger in a bun. And a lot of gravy poured on the fries. I was in the mood for that for awhile.

GREENE: There is a newspaper in front of him

Mr. GONZALES: I'm mostly into sports. That's what I only wanted to check - sports, that's it. A little bit of the Mexican violence that's going across our border here - there are a lot of problems with it.

GREENE: Raymond says he didn't know Clinton was up the road the day before. He says he's heard she's lost a number of primaries and caucuses to Barack Obama.

Mr. GONZALES: I think Obama is picking up more of the states. And I think people are going to go with Obama now. I still have some more questions that I'm still looking into, but I think Obama is going to be my man.

GREENE: At a table nearby, though, Chris Nunn is having none of that.

Ms. CHRIS NUNN (Texas Resident): My mother hasn't voted in 20 years, and she's already made sure that she's got her voter's registration up to date and everything.

GREENE: Because she wants to vote for Hillary.

Ms. NUNN: Mm-hmm. Both my parents will be voting for Hillary. I know - she was like, well, you know, you're voting for Hillary. And I said, you know what, you're not telling me who I'm voting for mom. So…

GREENE: And Nunn says, she made up her own mind to vote for Hillary Clinton.

(Soundbite of music)

GREENE: When day turns to night around here, there is a good scene at Jalapenos, a bar outside the city of McAllen. The mariachi band is always ready to play — on demand, for a fee.

Jesse Paez is working on a beer and some chips and salsa. He says Hillary Clinton and her husband have been making trips to South Texas for years. But he notes many trips have included some exclusive fundraisers.

Mr. JESSE PAEZ (Texas Resident): A ton of money they raise down here, which I strongly disagree with, because this is a very poor part of the country, an extremely poor part of the country.

GREENE: Still, Paez says the Clintons have a lot of people who love them.

Mr. PAEZ: People are probably going to vote for her down here. Down here, she'll win hands down.

GREENE: That may be true as long as people come out to vote. So few people turned out in this area in 2004 that the state democratic parties cut the number of delegates awarded from here.

At the table behind Jesse, Jose Gonzalez and Maria Alaniz are on break from a nearby nursing home. Gonzalez says if he votes, it will be for Clinton.

Mr. JOSE GONZALES (Texas Resident): Yeah, she knows more and she's more open to the problems of Mexican people. That's what I understand.

GREENE: But why do you feel that way?

Mr. GONZALES: It's what I heard.

Ms. MARIA ALANIZ (Texas Resident): Are you talking about voting for, like, president?


Ms. ALANIZ: Okay, because I saw something in the news about that young guy that's voting - he's a young guy, right?

GREENE: Who's that, running?

Ms. ALANIZ: Running. I'm sorry.

GREENE: Barack Obama.

Ms. ALANIZ: But he's so young. I don't think he has any experience if he wants to be running, you know. He's young.

GREENE: But Maria says she probably won't vote. As it is, between her shifts at the nursing home, she barely has time to grab a drink at Jalapenos.

(Soundbite of music)

GREENE: Maria knows the name of this song.

Ms. ALANIZ: "The Keys of My Heart," (speaks in foreign language), right?

GREENE: Hillary Clinton seems to have the keys to more hearts here in the Rio Grande Valley, but with so much on the line, she'll be back here for more rallies before primary day arrives.

David Greene, NPR News, McAllen, Texas.

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