Associated Press
Thu., Nov 18, 2004

Democrat Slams Kerry on Hispanic Outreach

WASHINGTON - A Democrat whose organization spent about $6 million to get out the Hispanic vote criticized John Kerry campaign effort Wednesday and said Democrats risk becoming a permanent minority if they don't do a better job.

"John Kerry did not compete adequately for Hispanic votes, period," said Simon Rosenberg, founder and president of the centrist New Democrat Network, a political organization independent of the national Democratic Party. "If we don't reverse the gains that President Bush made, we can forget our hope of being a majority party again."

Exit polls conducted for The Associated Press and television networks indicated Bush won 44 percent of the Hispanic vote, up from 35 percent in 2000. Kerry won 53 percent, down from 62 percent four years ago for Democrat Al Gore.

Rosenberg, 41, is considering a bid for chairman of the Democratic National Committee, but said the DNC and the Kerry campaign mistakenly assumed Hispanics would be part of their base vote, while the fast-growing Hispanic community is increasingly a swing voter group.

Among Rosenberg's complaints were the Kerry campaign and the DNC lacked a national strategy for Hispanics and did not spend enough money on advertising or enough time campaigning in Hispanic communities and did not employ enough people on the get-out-the-vote effort.

Tony Welch, a spokesman for the Democratic National Committee, said the DNC had its most extensive outreach to Hispanics in its history in 2004. He added, "As we saw in the election results, Democrats are going to have to work even harder for Hispanic voters because they are a key part of any winning Democratic formula."