Former Denver Mayor Federico Peña and a number of other prominent Latinos have signed on as national co-chairs for President Barack Obama's re-election campaign, the campaign announced today.
"Colorado is a critical state for President Obama in 2012, and I'm proud to serve again as a national co-chair for his re-election campaign," Peña said. The former transportation secretary was also a national co-chair for Obama in 2008.
Peña joins actor Eva Longoria, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Rep. Charles Gonzalez, D-Texas, among a number of Latinos on a team of 35 that will advise, host and organize for the campaign in all 50 states. Other national co-chairs include Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., Caroline Kennedy and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
"The fact that we have Latinos on the team is simply an extension of the president's commitment to the Latino community," Peña said, adding that the Latino vote is critical in Colorado.
"In any close election in the state, the Latino vote is key. We've seen examples of that in the election of Michael Bennet to the Senate, with Governor John Hickenlooper and in the past with Ken Salazar, who at the time was the only democrat elected to the U.S. Senate across the country," Peña said.
Obama has been criticized by many in the Latino community for his record on immigration, particularly with a record number of deportations under his leadership. Peña said the campaign's job will be to remind Latinos what the president has done, and what the alternatives are.
"The president for the last three years has been supporting policies that have been very supportive of the Latino community. He appointed the first Latina to the Supreme Court, he provided health care access to 30 million Americans and made college more affordable for middle class families by expanding Pell Grants," Peña said. "The president has also always supported comprehensive immigration reform. The fact is, we could not find not one republican representative or senator willing to sit down with the president and discuss reform."
The campaign recognizes how very important it is to re-engage young Americans, particularly young Latinos, and will work with colleges across the country as part of an effort to reach them, according to Peña. The campaign has also increased funding this year for multilingual, multimedia campaigns to reach Latinos in Colorado and across the country, he said.