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Mayor Villaraigosa to Give Spanish-Language Response to State of the Union

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa will give the Spanish-language response to President Bush's State of the Union address on Tuesday, Democratic congressional leaders announced.

Villaraigosa has been seen as a rising Democratic star since his election in May as the first Hispanic in 133 years to lead Los Angeles, the country's second-largest city. He will deliver his remarks from his Los Angeles office, said Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.

"Mayor Villaraigosa is working hard to increase economic opportunity and provide affordable and quality education for the people of Los Angeles," Reid and Pelosi said in a joint statement Wednesday. "As the first Latino mayor of Los Angeles in more than a century, we are proud to have his diverse voice within the party."

The Democrats' English-language response is being given by newly elected Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine.

Hispanics are the nation's largest minority group and a critical voting bloc that typically leans Democratic.

In the last presidential election, exit polls conducted for The Associated Press and television networks found Bush winning 44 percent of the Hispanic vote, up from 35 percent in 2000. Democratic Sen. John Kerry won 53 percent, down from 62 percent four years earlier for Democrat Al Gore.