Obama Criticized for Skipping Out on Latino Conference

President Barack Obama is under heat for not attending a major Latino convention for the third year in a row, CNN.com reports.  According to the website, Obama declined to speak at the annual conference of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) this past weekend, which took place in San Antonio, Texas.  NALEO is a nonprofit organization that promotes the participation of Latinos in the American political process. 

White House spokesman Luis Miranda told CNN in a written statement that the extent of Obama’s efforts on behalf of Latinos and all Americans is not defined by his participation in one event.  The statement added that the president’s efforts are, instead, defined by the daily work of spurring job creation and improving access to health care, among other factors.  The president’s absence comes at a time of decreasing popularity among Latinos.  A CNN/Opinion research poll revealed that Obama’s approval rating among Hispanic Americans steadily falling from 76 percent in 2009 to 67 percent in 2010.  This month, the approval rate is at 63 percent, according to CNN.  The news organization stated that the current percentage of approval among Latinos is still higher than the national average, which lingers around 50 percent.

Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) told CNN on Friday that he was with Obama when the then-senator first addressed NALEO and promised he would be back when he was elected president.  Gutierrez said Obama has also promised to sign comprehensive immigration reform, which has been stalled.  “So understand that symbolism is very important,” he said.

Though he did not attend this event, Obama has addressed other Latino groups, such as the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.  He is also scheduled to speak at The National Council of La Raza’s conference in Washington, D.C. next month.