Political Notebook

Obama seeks Latino stars’ help on immigration

April 29, 2011

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WASHINGTON — With his immigration overhaul stalled, President Obama is enlisting an array of voices, including Latino entertainment and media stars, to help jump-start legislation and reassure crucial but restless Hispanic voters that he has not abandoned his campaign pledge to change the law.

Obama’s political advisers see tremendous potential in a growing Latino electorate. But Obama, who won 67 percent of the Latino vote in 2008, faces a disenchanted Latino community, angry over a rise in deportations and an impasse on revamping immigration laws and fearful of tough state immigration laws such as those in Arizona.

Obama invited to the White House yesterday a dozen influential Spanish-language television anchors and radio personalities along with Latino actresses who have been active in Hispanic causes.

Among the high-profile Latinos was Eddie “Piolin’’ Sotelo, who in 2006 helped mobilize hundreds of thousands of protesters in Los Angeles and across the nation against enforcement-only immigration proposals. Actresses Eva Longoria and America Ferrera and television figures Don Francisco of Univision and Jose Diaz-Balart of Telemundo were also there.

Obama wants to overhaul the nation’s immigration system to provide a path to citizenship for millions of illegal immigrants. Chances of passage are remote on Capitol Hill with Republicans controlling the House.

Participants said Obama stressed his determination to change immigration laws. But they said that when pressed to do something about the record 393,000 illegal immigrants forced to leave the country last year, Obama indicated that without congressional action his hands were tied.

“The president and his administration told us that there are certain things that he cannot and will not do unilaterally,’’ Diaz-Balart said.

Added Longoria: “We like to blame Obama for the inaction, but he can’t just disobey the law that’s written.’’

The session comes a week after Obama invited about 70 elected officials and religious, law enforcement, business, labor, and civil rights figures to help build support for a long-stalled overhaul of the nation’s immigration laws.

— Associated Press

Rand Paul pokes fun at Trump during N.H. visit CONCORD, N.H. — The contrast could not have been clearer. Where Donald Trump flew into this first-in-the-nation primary state Wednesday on his helicopter, Senator Rand Paul flew in on Southwest — and had coffee spilled on him, to boot.

Where Trump was greeted by a horde of reporters, only a handful came to hear Paul speak yesterday before the Merrimack County Republican Committee at a Holiday Inn here. And where Trump is heavy on style and oftentimes light on substance, Paul delivered a policy-rich speech in a dry tone.

But Paul did tweak Trump for his insistence that President Obama release his complete birth certificate. “I’ve come to New Hampshire today because I’m very concerned,’’ Paul said. “I want to see the original long-form certificate, with embossed seal, of Donald Trump’s Republican registration.’’

“Seriously don’t you think we need to see that?’’ he said, adding that Trump had donated to Democrats such as Senate majority leader Harry Reid of Nevada.

Paul, a Kentucky Republican and favorite of the Tea Party movement, is in New Hampshire as part of a book tour. He had flirted in recent months with jumping into the presidential race, but told reporters after his speech that he would likely opt out because his father — Representative Ron Paul of Texas — had formed an exploratory committee.

“I’m afraid that I could be kicked out of my apartment,’’ he said. “He’s my landlord in Washington. Can you imagine the family strife if we ran against each other?’’

Paul, though, vocalized a sentiment felt by many Republicans who are concerned over the amount of attention candidates such as Trump are capturing and whether that drowns out serious-minded discussions over cutting the deficit and growing the economy.

“Let’s look to Republicans who not only talk the talk but walk the walk,’’ Paul said. “If we find the right candidate, I see no reason why we can’t win in 2012.’’

After his speech, Paul went on to criticize Trump in harsh terms, saying that the business mogul lacked a basic economic know-how and was wrong to suggest that gasoline prices could be lowered by bullying oil-rich countries.

“He’s always complaining about the president’s education,’’ Paul told reporters. “It’s like, what economic school teaches you that you can have a bully for a president who sets the prices by just telling countries what price they should charge? That to me shows an economic simplicity that really may not be equivalent to the stature of being president.’’

Paul also said that if Republicans select Mitt Romney as their nominee, the party would be hamstrung in taking on Obama’s health care plan. The health care law Romney signed as governor of Massachusetts has many similarities to the national plan.

Romney has said that he opposes the national plan because he thinks it infringes on state’s rights.

“It ought to be vetted and discussed and explained,’’ Paul said. “It becomes much more of a mixed message rather than a real clean-cut message. It will make it more difficult.’’

— Matt Viser top stories on Twitter

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