06/10/2008 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

McAuliffe: Obama Has A Hispanic Problem

According to Politico's Ken Vogel, Terry McAuliffe told a group of reporters that Obama has a Hispanic "problem". Ok I will dismiss the irony that McAuliffe is able to recognize a "Hispanic problem" now that he is no longer the DNC chair. While McAuliffe was DNC Chair he couldn't be convinced that the organization was not spending enough resources on Latino outreach. In fact, during McAuliffe's stint at the DNC Democrats lost Latino market share to the GOP. I will give McAuliffe the benefit of the doubt and believe that over the last six months he has realized the strategic importance of the Latino vote to the Democratic Party and especially to Democratic White House prospects.

Of course, anyone that looks at the issue objectively realizes that the majority of Latino voters are yet to warm to the Obama campaign. Now. I am sure that there will be the chorus of folks decrying McAuliffe as racially divisive for pointing out the GOP elephant in the Latino room. I also know that others will accuse Latinos of racism for not automatically jumping on board the Obama jet to the White House. However, let me do what has now become inconceivable among Democratic pundits: let me put responsibility of a failure with a key constituency not on the constituency itself but on the candidate. (If nothing else it's a novel approach and my email will be interesting)

I am in good company in making this assertion. In fact, Obama himself has admitted time and time again that he has not matched Clinton's outreach efforts to Hispanics. So at this point a thinking person has to ask the question: why has there not been any correction by team Obama to the "Latino problem?"

The Clinton campaign in contrast has made what can be accurately described as a record-setting effort in Latino outreach for presidential campaigns. HRC has proven what Latino activists have been trying to tell the DNC and Democratic candidates for decades: If you spend the time, energy and resources on Latino outreach, Latinos will reward you with votes. However, if you ignore us and wait until a couple of weeks before the election you will not be successful. If you have more questions on this point I direct you to Senator Kerry.

While this is a little secret in Democratic circles, it is not at the RNC, John McCain knows that he only needs roughly better than 35% to 40% of Latino voters in key swing states to solidify his lock on the Electoral College. In fact of all the Repubs McCain knows the Hispanic problem/opportunity best.

McCain is currently making a Latino play in New Mexico and early efforts are rewarded by Latinos. Well over a year ago I wrote a piece on saying that the Obama campaign needed to match Clinton's approach to Latinos if they were going to compete with her with this key constituency. The piece was met with anger and no action and yet turned out to be true. While the superdelegates meet with the candidate over the next few days and come to the question of electability they would be wise to ask why this longstanding "Latino problem" has not been corrected. The question must be asked not to McAuliffe or to Latinos but to the candidate himself.

Mario Solis-Marich is the founding editor of and hosts a progressive radio show which can be streamed at