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Democratic Candidates Take their Campaign to Hispanics

  • Brian Wagner

Seven Democratic presidential candidates Sunday took part in the first ever debate broadcast in Spanish on U.S. television. In Miami, VOA's Brian Wagner reports the discussion focused on immigration reform and other key issues for Hispanics in the United States.

The Univision television network broadcast the event to draw attention to concerns facing the nation's 44 million Hispanics, and to highlight the importance of Spanish across the United States.

The debate was broadcast in Spanish using simultaneous interpretation.

The debate at the University of Miami opened with questions about the war in Iraq but its main focus were questions about immigration reform and social needs for Americans.

Many candidates voiced support for a comprehensive immigration reform that would enhance border security and seek to resolve the status of some 12 million undocumented workers.

Former senator John Edwards said any immigration plan should address poverty abroad which spurs many to leave their home countries.

Speaking through an interpreter, Edwards said poverty and poor education and health services are some of the reasons that people come to the United States.

Senator Barack Obama voiced concerns about healthcare in the United States, noting that millions of Americans, including some 13 million Hispanics, have no medical insurance.

Speaking through an interpreter, Obama said he is proposing a universal health care system that would allow all Americans to receive coverage.

Several candidates also responded to questions about political issues in Latin America where many of the Miami residents came from. Senator Chris Dodd drew applause from the audience when he proposed reforming the decades-old embargo with Cuba.

Dodd said he would seek to lower the embargo and lift restrictions against traveling to Cuba and sending remittances to people on the island.

The debate also included Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton and Mike Gravel, Governor Bill Richardson and Representative Dennis Kucinich. Senator Joe Biden did not take part for scheduling reasons.

Univision says it is hoping to organize a similar debate in Spanish with Republican candidates in coming months.
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