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Interview with Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa

Stanley O. Williford | 8/8/2012, 5 p.m.

Q: How is the president's record so far on other issues affecting the community?
A: Well, look. Let's look back. One of the most important legislative achievements of the president is the Affordable Care Act, and the Republicans disparagingly call it Obamacare. The president said, 'you know they call it Obamacare, and they're right.' I supported this because Obama cares about the people--the 50 million people that didn't have health insurance, and the 32 million who get healthcare as a result of the Affordable Care Act. Nine million of them are Latinos, roughly 7 or 8 million are African American. The people who are going to be helped the most by the Affordable Health Care Act are the working poor--African Americans and Latinos.
When the president supported expanding Pell grants and loans for kids of the working and middle classes to go to college, disproportionately supported were Latinos and African Americans. I think there were 150,000 Latino students and upwards of 250,000 African American students [who are supported], because when the president stands up for tax cuts for middle-class people, the people [heavily] and impacted and affected by that are us. We don't have a lot of people in the 1 percent. We're people that work hard and they want that hard work to be rewarded. We've got people who struggle and make ends meet. The work that he's done around foreclosures, holding banks responsible for the foreclosure crisis, standing up to the notion that these people ought to get some justice and compensation--[many of] those people are minorities.

Q: What plans are in place to gain more Latino support?
A: I keynoted the Nevada Democratic Party Convention, the New Mexico Democratic Party Convention and the Florida State Democratic Jefferson Jackson Dinner in Miami. I did all those because those are swing states that have large Latino populations.
I don't just speak to Latinos; I speak to African Americans, Whites, gays, and union members, environmentalists and evangelicals who support the president. So I speak to a broad cross section, but obviously they take advantage of the fact that I'm Spanish-speaking. I speak the Spanish language at TV and radio stations in all those states, and do what I can to make it very clear to Latino and others voters that the choices are clear, that the president's policies are policies that will take us on a path forward, and that Gov. Romney wants to take us back.
You see that across the board. You see that on immigration, when he [Romney] calls for the deportation of 11 million people. Five million of their kids are citizens. You see it when he's talking about civil rights and human rights issues--issue after issue there is a big chasm between the president and Gov. Romney.
Gov. Romney is saying to us that we should elect him, not because he was a governor. He doesn't want to talk about his governor record. He said he was a job-creator when he was in business. They fact-checked his claim that there were 100,000 jobs generated and they said no you didn't.
We know he made a lot of money, and there's nothing wrong with that. In America, we all believe in the creation of wealth and prosperity, but just making a lot of money, loading up companies with debt, firing workers and outsourcing their jobs isn't my idea of something that qualifies you to be president of the United States.
That's the difference between the president and Gov. Romney. The governor's policies are a carbon copy of President Bush's. President Obama's policies are focused on strengthening the middle class, investing in their kids' education, rebuilding our infrastructure so America can stay strong and get strong again.