Political Pandering: The (VERY) Amusing Things Politicans Do to Sway Latino Voters

When it comes to getting the Latino vote, it seems like politicians will stop at nothing—and stoop to everything. With mid-term elections coming up, check out our list of the most shameless ploys politicians have made to let Latinos know that they’re compadres.

1. Political Pandering: Carly Fiorina & Meg Whitman

Carly Fiorina and Meg Whitman

Neither of these California Republican candidates (Fiorina is running for Senate; Whitman for governor) rates high with the State’s Latinos—especially not Whitman, whose undocumented maid accused her of treating her “like garbage.” Their idea of a fix? The women, who look like strictly white wine types to us, do a shot of tequila at the Hispanic 100 Lifetime Achievement Award Gala earlier this month. Fiorina’s pandering even prompted her to try a little gringo Spanish to woo the crowd: "Mucho gracias! This evening has spoiled me forever, from now on…I  think every speech should begin with a shot of tequila." Whitman was a bit more blunt (perhaps an effect of the booze?): “I can’t win without the Latino vote,” she said. With moves like this, we can only say buena suerte, ladies! Hic!

2. Political Pandering: Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton

One of her people clearly decided that when it came to luring Latinos to vote Clinton into the White House in 2008, tacos were key. Clinton hit up a King Taco in Boyle Heights with Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, and proceeded to chow down on some tacos—apparently with enough salsa roja to make a statue cry—while the cameras flashed around her. A month later, she held a post-debate party in Guero’s, Austin’s legendary taco joint, where she and daughter Chelsea crunched for the cameras. And wafting through the air at her Texas rallies? You got it: the smell of cecina and salsa. We hope she carried Texas because of her foreign policy.

3. Political Pandering: George Bush

George W. Bush

It’s a dubious time-honored tradition kept by prez candidates all the way up to Barack Obama: Speak Spanish and the Latins will fawn. Dubya took it to a whole new level. He grew up in Texas and has a Mexican sister-in-law, so somewhere along the way, he picked up enough of la lengua de Cervantes to butcher it every chance he got, while addressing Latinos on two presidential campaign trails and during his two terms in the White House. At least he had a sense of humor about it, though. He once told an audience that when he’d told his advisors he wanted to deliver the speech in Spanish, they suggested he master English first. We concur.

4. Political Pandering: Ronald Reagan

Ronald Reagan

When Reagan made a historic appearance in Miami, specifically to woo Cubans, he stopped at Little Havana’s La Esquina de Tejas and stuffed himself with roast chicken and black beans and rice. After praising the food, the masterful public speaker and former actor demonstrated how well he knew his audience by shamelessly tying the meal with Cuban Americans’ #1 emotional issue: Cuba. “Is there anyplace in Cuba, outside of maybe the Presidential Palace, where that menu could still be served?” he said in a melancholy tone. The audience erupted in applause, but he hardly needed the gimmick. Most Cubans are Republicans.

5. Political Pandering: RNC

Republican National Committee

How can you tell the difference between pandering and sincere outreach? Easy. Let’s say that you want to put out a press release announcing a video that celebrates Hispanic accomplishments in government. You’d probably want to have a fluent Spanish, if not native, speaker write it, no? Tell that to the RNC, whose one-paragraph press release, released last year, contained some 30 errors and typos. In. One. Paragraph. Not caring enough to get it right with the audience you’re trying to win over is the height of pandering. Oh, and that video celebrating Latino accomplishments? Not one word about the historic appointment of Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court. Classy!

6. Political Pandering: Related Links