Bill Clinton helps land Latino votes for wife

March 4, 2008 5:08:35 PM PST
If Hillary Clinton wins in Texas, the main reason will probably be a long-standing love affair between Latino voters and an ex-president known affectionately as Bubba. The wild card in Texas Tuesday is former president Bill Clinton, whose apparent attempts to belittle Barack Obama may have backfired on wife Hillary in some states.

But in San Antonio, where the Clintons' roots go back 35 years to the McGovern campaign, and other heavily Hispanic areas of Texas, Bill Clinton can only help in firing up one of the Democratic Party's most important ethnic blocs.

"He's just a rock star here in many ways. His support of her is tremendous. It has a good effect," said Paul Elzonido, (D) county commissioner.

"I'm hoping that what they remember is the good economy that we had during that administration. But I think that what they're really weighing on is on Hillary herself and her record," said Helen Torres, Clinton supporter.

"It takes a while for them to sink in but as people get the feeling of real leadership that changes people's lives, she does better and better. And I think that's what's happening here," said Bill Clinton.

"She is a really good candidate. But what Barack Obama represents is the future, something new, a breath of fresh air into the White House," said Xochitl Gonzalez, Obama supporter.

Obama's supporters are fighting an uphill battle that a young and relatively unknown African American candidate is preferable to Hillary Clinton.

"We stick with what we know because we are comfortable with them. That's a great part of our culture. But I think also, change is something that's also good. And it's something we're not always comfortable with," said Gonzalez.

Latinos are only one part of the electoral tapestry in Texas and Ohio. So the candidates themselves are taking nothing for granted. As for Bill Clinton, he's making only one prediction.

"If she wins Texas and Ohio, she will go on and win a big victory in Pennsylvania. And I think she will be the nominee. That's what I believe," said Bill Clinton.

Bill Clinton pointed out that Texas is actually the only state in the country where an old Chicago slogan is in effect. You can actually vote twice legally - once in the primary, once in the caucus - and both votes count. And that is causing some complaints from both the Clinton and Obama campaigns about irregularities, pressures and efforts to steer the caucus one way or another.

The caucus is one-third of the delegates. Two-thirds come in the primary.