Obama campaign woos Hispanic community organizers

On the heels of Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin’s disparaging remarks about community organizers, more than 50 Barack Obama supporters attended a campaign outreach and volunteer training session focused on reaching out to Colorado’s Latino community.

The Sept. 5-6 organizing session coincided with the campaign’s formation of the Colorado Latino Advisory Council, a group of more than 30 elected officials and Latino community members.

“For those folk that snub them and sneer at community organizers, you better be careful,” Denver City Councilman Paul Lopez told the crowd of about 60 Obama supporters who had gathered Friday night at El Centro Su Teatro, a Hispanic arts and education organization, in north Denver.

“In Colorado, we are, the Latino community will be the deciding factor,” said Lopez, who is a member of the Advisory Council.

The Obama campaign is targeting four battleground states, including Colorado — where 11.8 percent of eligible voters are Hispanic — in which the Latino vote could be the deciding factor, said Carlos Olio, a campaign organizer.

The state’s nine electoral votes went to George W. Bush in 2004, with 52 percent of the vote to John Kerry’s 47, he added.

Victoria Watson, a student at Colorado State University in Pueblo, said the issues that concern Hispanic voters — jobs, the war in Iraq, education, immigration and taxes — are being addressed by the Obama campaign in a more effective way than Sen. John McCain’s efforts.

“I really see a lot of potential here for Obama,” said Watson, who is involved in community organizing in Pueblo. “You feel a sense of powerlessness and when you come to [an organizing event] like this, it empowers you.”

John Widmar, one of 160 supporters who signed up for the two-day organizing session, came from Greeley, where he has canvassed for Obama, to attend the organizing event Sept. 5.

“I would say Barack Obama resonates with Latinos … At the community-based level, there’s a trust there,” Widmar said.

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