Barack Obama gives rival Mitt Romney mountain to climb for Hispanic vote

The President still holds sway over a key demographic

Denver

Everything that matters in this election comes together in the rising plains and soaring peaks of Colorado, a state where voters divide equally by registration between Republicans, Democrats and independents, where the Hispanic population is growing, where early voting has started and where the candidates are neck and neck.

It is why, when Barack Obama addressed a crowd of 16,000 in City Park in Denver late on Wednesday, he promised, "You will be seeing me again," before election day. It is also why, when Mitt Romney packed the Red Rocks amphitheatre near here the day before, a Latino family was placed right behind him on the stage holding "Democrats for Romney" signs. "I love that, I love that," the Governor cried.

Colorado also offers a mirror to where Mr Obama finds himself today. Even though this state had only voted once for a Democrat for the White House since 1968, four years ago Mr Obama won it by a nine points after building a commanding coalition of independents. Yet now, it is a toss-up.

"The President is doing everything he needs to do," Wellington Webb, a former Denver mayor and a giant in Democratic politics here, told The Independent. "It's on the rest of us now to make sure we get the vote out. It's game time." He called Mr Romney unpredictable and weak on what matters to women, "and he's not speaking to the issues of the Hispanic community".

Keeping Hispanics in his camp here and in all the other battleground states – and generating sufficient enthusiasm that they vote – is one of the key challenges of the Obama campaign. Some national polls give Mr Obama leads of nearly 50 points over Mr Romney among Latino voters and even then it is possible that his support is being underestimated. Yet, Mr Obama still can't take them for granted.

For one, Mr Romney is ceding nothing. He has been running a parallel campaign targeted solely at Hispanics. Called "Juntos con Romney" (Together with Romney), it has aggressively courted the community, particularly here in Colorado with Spanish-language TV and radio spots. "This is probably one of the biggest outreaches I've ever seen," said Edgar Antillon, chairman of Juntos con Romney in Adams County, east of Denver.

While Mr Romney hurt himself during the primaries paying lip-service to anti-immigrant groups, his supporters argue that many Hispanics are more concerned with the economy. That, certainly, has been the experience of Martin Mendez, who heads Colorado Hispanic Republicans. Each Saturday he and 20 others wave signs at road junctions in Denver with signs that say "No Mas Obama" (No more Obama).

"It's an uphill battle for us because of the neglect of Latinos in Colorado by the party in terms of their being recruited and wooed," he explained this week. But he believes that this time Mr Obama may not get even a majority of Latinos in the state mostly because of the President's promise in 2008 to pass immigration reform that never happened. "He burned Hispanics, he used Hispanics just to get their vote and then turned his back on us."

But the other reason, he says, is that it is the economy that matters most and on that many Latinos, who are often small business owners, like Mr Romney's agenda better. "The biggest issue that appeals to Hispanics is this vision of economic opportunity, which I believe our president is destroying in this country." But Rodrigo Cortez, a Denver bus driver, who with his partner, Elith Rodriguez, has been canvassing voters each weekend in a Latino market here, says Hispanic support for Mr Obama remains strong. The biggest boost, he says, was the President's move to enforce by executive order the main elements of the Dream Act to allow young people brought into the country illegally by their parents to stay in America.

As for the failure to pass wider reform, they get it, he says. "The truth is you are going to have some setbacks, the President doesn't decide everything." Mr Obama can only hope that he is right.

News
A 1930 image of the Karl Albrecht Spiritousen and Lebensmittel shop, Essen. The shop was opened by Karl and Theo Albrecht’s mother; the brothers later founded Aldi
people
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmA cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Arts and Entertainment
Flora Spencer-Longhurst as Lavinia, William Houston as Titus Andronicus and Dyfan Dwyfor as Lucius
theatreThe Shakespeare play that proved too much for more than 100 people
News
exclusivePunk icon Viv Albertine on Sid Vicious, complacent white men, and why free love led to rape
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
Stir crazy: Noel Fielding in 'Luxury Comedy 2: Tales from Painted Hawaii'
comedyAs ‘Luxury Comedy’ returns, Noel Fielding on why mainstream success scares him and what the future holds for 'The Boosh'
Life and Style
Flow chart: Karl Landsteiner discovered blood types in 1900, yet scientists have still not come up with an explanation for their existence
lifeAll of us have one. Yet even now, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Arts and Entertainment
'Weird Al' Yankovic, or Alfred Matthew, at the 2014 Los Angeles Film Festival Screening of
musicHis latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do our experts think he’s missed out?
Sport
New Real Madrid signing James Rodríguez with club president Florentino Perez
sportColombian World Cup star completes £63m move to Spain
Travel
Hotel Tour d’Auvergne in Paris launches pay-what-you-want
travelIt seems fraught with financial risk, but the policy has its benefits
Arts and Entertainment
booksThe best children's books for this summer
Life and Style
News to me: family events were recorded in the personal columns
techFamily events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped that
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Sustainability Manager

Competitive: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Scheme Manager (BREEAM)...

Graduate Sustainability Professional

Flexible, depending on experience: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: T...

Programme Director - Conduct Risk - London

£850 - £950 per day: Orgtel: Programme Director - Conduct Risk - Banking - £85...

Project Coordinator/Order Entry, SC Clear

£100 - £110 per day: Orgtel: Project Coordinator/Order Entry Hampshire

Day In a Page

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn