SCOTT SIMON, Host:
NPR News analyst Juan Williams is in Phoenix - that's one of the many cities where protests are scheduled today. Demonstrators there plan to call for a boycott of Arizona. Juan joins us from the studios of KHOT in Phoenix. Juan, thanks for being with us.
JUAN WILLIAMS: Good morning, Scott.
SIMON: And let's get right to the politics of this. What does this dispute mean for Republicans, what's it mean for Democrats?
WILLIAMS: But one thing you have to look at, though, of course, is the polls. And right now 64 percent of Arizonans favor this bill, according to a Rasmussen poll, and nationally Gallup has found 51 percent of Americans in favor of it. Now, the key there is that independents favor the bill 37-29. In general, Republicans support it, Democrats oppose it. But that fact that 37-29 independents are for it is key politically.
SIMON: Hispanics are often referred to as the fastest-growing voter base in the country. And, you know, there was a time just a few years ago when Republicans seemed to be making great inroads with that base by emphasizing family values and other items in the Republican agenda. What's the possible impact on the Hispanic vote?
WILLIAMS: Well, it's just so key because it's the fastest-growing vote in the country and of course it's a major element here in Arizona. But, you know, you go across from California to Colorado into Texas, it's just a major...
SIMON: Illinois and New Jersey, for that matter.
WILLIAMS: And then, of course, you've got things like people marching outside the baseball game in your hometown of Chicago, Scott. You know, you see the Hispanic community absolutely in gear now, and you know, previously people were worried that they were angry at President Obama for failing to take action on the national level. And that's not an issue at the moment.
SIMON: There is some internal dispute among Republicans, isn't there?
WILLIAMS: But they do so, again, especially when I'm talking to Republican political strategists, at the risk of alienating that fast-growing Hispanic vote. And that's why you see some Republicans saying this is a bad move for the party.
SIMON: And a very quick reflection, Juan, on Florida Governor Charlie Crist's announcement that he's going to run for the Senate as an independent.
WILLIAMS: It's a key move, and really, again, bad news for Republicans because it empowers Kendrick Meeks, the Democrat, now to really split the vote and puts Marco Rubio as the Republican nominee in a really tricky position.
SIMON: NPR News analyst Juan Williams in Phoenix. Thanks so much for being with us so early, Juan.
WILLIAMS: You're welcome, Scott.
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