POLITICS

Vice President Biden stumps for California Latino candidates and touts benefits of immigration

Vice President Joe Biden gestures during a speech to mark the 40th anniversary of the Legal Services Corporation, on Tuesday, Sept. 16, 2014, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Vice President Joe Biden gestures during a speech to mark the 40th anniversary of the Legal Services Corporation, on Tuesday, Sept. 16, 2014, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)  (AP)

Vice President Joe Biden stumped Tuesday for Latinos in California running for Congress and the secretary of state post.

Biden focused his campaign stop in Bakersfield on the need for immigration reform and the contribution of Latinos.

The candidates he was pushing for are Democrat Amanda Renteria, who is running incumbent Republican David Valadao in the 21st Congressional District, and state Sen. Alex Padilla, who is challenging Republican Pete Peterson.

"The 11 million people who have been here, not all Latino, a lot of other people as well, they're already Americans,” Biden told the crowd at the Icardo Center, according to published reports. “They're already Americans because as Teddy Roosevelt said, America is not about a passport, it's an attitude, a belief."

Biden also depicted immigration reform as something the United States would be doing for its own benefit.

“Folks, here’s the deal, we should stop asking what we can do for them,” Biden said, according to the Fresno Bee. “It’s what Latinos will do for America. This is not about any single group of people. It’s about how we rebuild the United States of America.”

Biden noted that Latinos are already part and parcel of American life.

He said they are a quarter of high school students, nearly 20 percent of students in college and about 14 percent of those serving in the military, the Fresno Bee reported.

Immigration reform, Biden said, would help bring down the deficit by $850 billion and add $300 billion to the Social Security Trust Fund.

The 21st Congressional District has more Democrat registered voters than Republican, but turnout among Democrats long has been a challenge, the Bee reported.

Valadao’s campaign criticized Biden for not speaking about one of the region’s most pressing issues – the drought.

“In the midst of the worst drought in California history, the vice president failed to even utter the word water once,” Valadao campaign spokesman Tal Eslick said. “Instead of providing solutions for the Central Valley, Amanda Renteria and Vice President Biden chose to play politics, and that’s too bad.”

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