ORLANDO, Fla. – Gov. Jeb Bush (search) urged Florida Hispanics on Monday to re-elect his brother, saying President Bush has done more to boost Latinos than any other president.
The governor spoke at the first of several rallies scheduled nationwide to mobilize Hispanic voters for the Bush-Cheney campaign, appealing to a swing voting group in a key state.
"This president, more than any other president, has recognized Hispanics," said Bush, who was accompanied by his Mexican-born wife, Columba.
President Bush has appointed Hispanics to top positions in his administration, the governor said, including White House counsel Alberto Gonzales (search), Small Business Administration administrator Hector Barreto (search) and former Housing Secretary Mel Martinez (search).
The Republican Party is making a special effort this year to draw Hispanic voters, who cast just 35 percent of their ballots for President Bush in 2000. Other GOP rallies for Hispanic voters will take place in Kansas City, Mo.; Albuquerque, N.M.; and Las Vegas.
"We're starting earlier, and we're devoting more resources," said Sharon Castillo, director of specialty media for the Bush-Cheney campaign. "We know this is going to be a close election, so we want to do everything to attract the Hispanic vote."
GOP efforts to court Hispanic voters are just a "smoke screen for their failed policies," said Nelson Reyneri of the Office of Hispanic Outreach for the Democratic National Committee in Washington.
Democrats' policies on jobs, health care and education are more beneficial to Hispanics, he said.