Hillary Clinton’s campaign released two bilingual ads in Arizona on Thursday, featuring Spanish speakers expressing their support for her presidential bid in November, just days before the Arizona primary election on Tuesday.
The first is a television advertisement narrated by labor leader and civil rights activist Dolores Huerta, focusing on Clinton’s history promoting civil rights for Latinos. The second, a radio advertisement narrated by Arizona District 7 Rep. Ruben Gallego, compares Republican frontrunner Donald Trump to Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, whose tough anti-immigrant policies have been viewed as racist and isolating to Latinos in Arizona.
In one of her television ads, Hillary Clinton appears with United Farm Workers union leader Dolores Huerta in an effort to appeal to Hispanic voters.
Latinos are a crucial voter block for the presidential candidate to win November’s election, said Alex Gomez, co-director of Living United for Change in Arizona, or LUCHA. In Arizona, a projected 1.3 million Latinos will be eligible to vote in 2016, according to a recent study by the Pew Research Center.
Clinton’s campaign hopes to speak to Latino voters in the state who are consuming information in Spanish, whether on the radio at their worksite or on the television at home, said Luis Heredia, political director for the Hillary for America campaign in Arizona.
“I think a campaign that recognizes the diversity of our state is one that understands our future,” Heredia said.
As the November general election approaches, Arizona has seen an influx of Latino residents applying for citizenship in order to vote, Gomez said. A citizenship program by LUCHA’s partner organization, the Arizona Center for Empowerment, has tripled in size in recent months, she said. Many Latinos have been motivated to vote in response to anti-immigrant rhetoric from Republican frontrunner Donald Trump, who Gomez said will need the Latino vote to win the general election.
Gomez said Clinton’s release of Spanish-language advertising was “smart,” comparing it to the Spanish-language website supporting President Barack Obama during his campaign.
“I think it’s very smart of the Hillary campaign to actually start focusing on future communities — especially the young people, because they are part of the new American majority,” Gomez said.
According to the Pew report, millennials between the ages of 18 and 35 will make up 44 percent of Hispanics eligible to vote in the United States this November. Currently, a majority of those young voters are supporting Bernie Sanders in the primary elections — according to a Washington Post poll, Sanders leads Clinton by 14 points among millennial Hispanic voters.
At a Sanders rally this week, Michelle Acero and her boyfriend Emilio Perez, both 21, turned out for their first political event. Both are first-time voters, motivated by Trump’s statements on immigrants that they say has been hurtful to families on both sides of the border.
“My mother (also a first time voter) is voting for Hillary, and I‘m voting for Bernie,” she said. “But we agree on one thing: Trump and his hatred have to be stopped.”
Older Hispanic democrats show support for Clinton, who leads Sanders by over 50 percentage points among those who are middle-aged and 65 and older, according to the poll. Gomez said she has seen Hispanic support split along the same generational lines almost evenly between the two candidates.
Jenny Gonzalez, 47, plans to vote for Sanders in Tuesday’s primary election. Gonzalez said she feels candidates cater to Latinos with Spanish-speaking advertising during elections in the hopes of winning and believes Clinton’s record does not show support for the Latino population.
“I feel that she’s exploiting the Latino voters,” Gonzalez said. “Her using Spanish words in her speeches, that’s pretty demeaning, because it’s convenient for her. It’s convenient, and we do not appreciate that.”
Nonetheless, many Latino voters are putting their support behind Clinton, Gomez said.
“I think that in the Latino community, name recognition — it’s Hillary,” Gomez said. “But here’s the thing about the Latino community — it is a swing vote. It’s not a community that has proven to just vote Democratic. … That vote can go either Bernie or Hillary, quite frankly.”