Sunday, September 09, 2007

Richardson hits border walls & Univision in debate

Bill Richardson

MIAMI -- Bill Richardson won a debate tonight hosted by giant Spanish language TV channel Univision, but he was not allowed to speak Spanish.

Univision required candidates to answer in English, because only New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson and Sen. Christopher J. Dodd (Conn.) speak Spanish fluently.

That prompted New Mexico Governor Richardson to criticize the network from the stage Sunday night.

"I'm disappointed today that 43 million Latinos in this country -- for them not to hear one of their own speak Spanish, is unfortunate," Richardson said. "In other words, Univision is promoting English-only in this debate."

He then switched to Spanish but was cut off by moderators Jorge Ramos and Maria Elena Salinas.

Salinas and Ramos, meanwhile, delivered challenges of their own. Dodd, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama were called to account for their votes to build walls on the U.S.-Mexico border.

Clinton said, said she supported "even a physical barrier."

Richardson called the walls "a horrendous example of misguided Washington policy." "If you're going to build a 12-foot wall, you know what's going to happen," he said. "A lot of 13-foot ladders. This is a terrible symbol of America."

Richardson, the only Latino running for president, was the most explicit he has been in this campaign in discussing his Mexican American heritage and in identifying himself with Latino issues.

"I am of the view that Latinos can make a difference in this presidential election,"
the southwest Governor said. "Forty-three million of us all around the country can decide not just what is best for Latinos but what is best for America."

Latinos make up the largest minority group in Arizona and the US, about 14 percent of all Americans, but they represent only about 9 percent of the US electorate because of lower citizenship and participation rates.

- some info from WashPost

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