Obama goes west in search of Hispanic voters

Neil Munro | White House Correspondent

President Barack Obama took his stump speech to a heavily Hispanic audience in Denver, Colo. on Tuesday, where he touted his newest stimulus proposal and lambasted Republican legislators for opposing the bill.

“You know, some Republicans in Washington have said that some of this [stimulus] might have to wait for the next election … Some even said … they still shouldn’t pass it because it would give me a win,” he declared, without mentioning the $447 billion price tag for the proposed bill.

“Give me a win? Give me a break! That’s why folks are fed up with Washington,” he declared.

Obama made the speech to students at Abraham Lincoln High School. Roughly 90 percent of the school’s students are Latino, and one Latino student was selected to introduce him to the supportive crowd.

By emphasizing the bill’s emphasis on construction, Obama tailored the speech for the mostly Hispanic audience, which has been hit hard by the collapsed construction industry.

“Pass this jobs bill, and right here in Colorado thousands of construction workers will have a job again … it’ll create good jobs for local construction workers right here in Denver, across Colorado, and throughout the country,” he said. “There are construction projects like these all across this country just waiting to get started.  And there are millions of unemployed construction workers who are looking for jobs.”

In July, he made a similar pitch to the National Council of La Raza, a Hispanic advocacy group. ”The hundreds of thousands of construction workers — many of them Latino — who lost their jobs when the housing bubble burst, I want to put them back to work rebuilding our roads and our bridges and new schools and airports all across the country,” Obama said. (RELATED: Obama to Congress: ‘What on Earth are you waiting for?’)

The speech was the last stop in a three-state, three-day tour of Washington state, California and Colorado. The trip took him to seven fundraisers. He returns to Washington, D.C. tonight.

Obama needs a high turnout by Latino supporters to help him capture several swing-states, such as Colorado and North Carolina, in large part because his standing among white voters has fallen well below 40 percent.

But his support among Hispanics has also fallen to record low levels.

In August polls, Obama’s support among the varied Latino groups dropped down to an average of 48 percent. That’s a huge fall from the 60 percent support he had in January 2011.

That drop has helped dragged down his Colorado approval rating to 45 percent, and boosted his state-wide ‘disapproval’ poll number to 50 percent.

The leaders of Hispanic advocacy groups say his ratings have fallen because he has not pushed for amnesty for immigrants who are in the United States illegally. But Obama did not use today’s speech to boost immigration or amnesty, which has become increasingly unpopular as unemployment and government spending rise in states and localities around the country.

Obama’s ratings have been hit harder by the stalled economy, which has boosted Hispanic unemployment well above 11 percent.

Hispanics have also been hit hard by the bursting of the property bubble. Hispanics had built and bought many of the houses in the southwest states where the bubble was greatest. When the bubble burst, many construction-industry jobs were eliminated, and the average wealth of Hispanic households fell by 66 percent, down to $6,325 in 2009, according to a July report from the Pew Research Center.

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