With the race to the White House heating up, presidential campaigns continue to make key hires to their staffs. Yesterday, CNN reported that the Obama campaign hired Katherine Archuleta as the campaign’s political director. Archuleta will be the first Latina to be a political director for a presidential campaign. Yesterday, the Daily Caller asked me about the implications of Obama’s choice in the 2012 campaign and specifically the Latino vote in “Obama to announce political director for 2012 reelection campaign“.
“It will help Obama to have someone who not only understands the community, but is from the community,” said Republican political strategist Bettina Inclán, a Latina. “Appointing this woman as his political director just cements the importance of connecting with the Hispanic community for his campaign and should serve as a wake up call to Republican campaigns about the pivotal role of Latino voters in this election.”
Read the full piece and the role of Latinos in swing states here.
While Archuleta’s ethnicity does not secure Latino victory for the Obama campaign, it does ensure that connecting with Latino voters is something being considered in every decision and not a campaign afterthought, as it has been in past cycles for both Republicans and Democrats.
America has changed, and we Republicans can no longer afford to wait to the last push of the election to connect with Latino voters. All American’s are facing the same economic challenges. Latino issues are American issues. Hispanic voters deserve, and need to be getting the same message in English (and Spanish), with a culturally relevant approach. The Latino vote is a swing vote and will go to the candidate who best connects with those voters.
Just yesterday, the RNC rolled out their electoral road map to victory and it included states with significant Hispanic populations such as New Mexico, Nevada, Colorado and Florida. If a beefed up, long-term Latino outreach program is not part of the RNC’s strategy to win these states, a GOP victory will be difficult. In recent days the RNC has moved in positive direction and hired new staff.
There is no question that President Obama has an uphill battle with Latinos this cycle. Many are disappointed with President Obama for his multiple broken promises, which is clearly demonstrated in his plummeting approval numbers among Latino voters. Yet, President Obama has always been a better campaigner then President. Archuletta’s hire might be more of a symbolic move for Latinos voters to prove that Hispanics engagement will be important in the 2012 cycle.
Politics aside, Archuleta has an impressive resume. She currently serves as Chief of Staff to Labor Secretary Hilda L. Solis and has over 18 years of government experience at both the local and national level with stints in the Department of Energy and Transportation. She has worked as a senior advisor to the City of Denver, and main coördinator in the DNC National Convention in 2008 in Colorado. Archuleta has significant experience with the Latino community, and was the Executive Director of the National Hispanic Cultural Center Foundation.
Selecting qualified and politically savvy Hispanics to senior campaign posts can add an extra layer and additional insight to fellow campaign operatives. The Latino community is complicated and many established campaign operatives have gotten it wrong. It’s a welcomed sign to see Latino leaders move up the politics and I hope this opens the door for many others, on both sides of the aisle.
Just for clarification, during Hillary Clinton’s run for President she hired her long time aide, Patti Solis Doyle, as campaign manager. Solis Doyle is the daughter of Mexican immigrants.