Transcript: Will Kerry Woo Hispanic Voters?

This is a partial transcript of The Big Story With John Gibson, July 13, 2004, that has been edited for clarity.

JOHN GIBSON, HOST: Kerry campaign going hard after the Hispanic vote; buying a million dollars' worth of ad time on Spanish language TV stations. President Bush has Spanish language ads of his own on radio and TV. So, who is going to grab the biggest chunk of the growing Hispanic population's vote? Let's ask Republican Florida Congressman Mario Diaz Balart and Kerry campaign co-Chair Antonio Villarigosa.

Congressman, you first, the big question: So, who will win the Hispanic vote?

MARIO DIAZ BALART, FLORIDA CONGRESSMAN: Well, I'm glad that Senator Kerry has finally discovered that Hispanics exist — Latino community exists in the United States. You know, there's a reason why Democratic leaders of his own party have said that, not only does he not get it, but that he just doesn't care about the Latinos in this country.

President Bush understands it. He's been on air since March. He's up in over 30 states, he has Hispanic volunteers, Hispanic groups that have been, not all of the sudden improvising the "Get out the vote for Latinos" who understand the community, who represent the community. I'm convinced that President Bush is going to do exceptionally well, because not only does he speak the language, he gets it, unlike Senator Kerry, who is just now all of the sudden, discovered that the Latino community exists in the United States.

GIBSON: You know, Mr. Villarigosa, I believe that most polls say that most of the Hispanic vote is going to go to Kerry. Am I right about that?


GIBSON: My question is: why? I mean, considering the strong religious values of the Hispanic community and sort of the core conservative values, why are they going for Kerry?

VILLARIGOSA: Well, they're going with John Kerry and John Edwards for two reasons. One, a track record the Democrats have of fighting for the American dream for all of us; of insuring that education is fully funded and that we're focusing not just on the schools that are successful, but on the low performing schools and on the dropout rate, which you know is very high in the Latino community.

They're supporting John Kerry and John Edwards because he has a commitment to health care and, as you know, many Latino children do not have health care, even though their parents are working. Some 69 percent of all Latino children don't have health care. They're supporting John Kerry and John Edwards because they know he's going to create a strong economy and good jobs. We've lost more jobs under Bush-Cheney than under the Hoover administration.

GIBSON: Well, come on. I mean, that is stretching it, once again. I mean, jobs were lost, but jobs are back, too. And Hispanics are doing better. Mr. Diaz Balart, are there two different Hispanic, or even three, different Hispanic communities that may not have the same interests coast-to-coast?

DIAZ BALART: That's a very diverse community, but I think there are a few things that unite the Latino community in the United States: they're very pro-family, very pro-life. They support that parents should have the right to determine whether the minor child should have major surgical procedure, such as an abortion. They support the very strong families. They don't support higher taxes. They don't support higher taxes on gasoline, which is what Kerry, as you know, supported.

He supported a $0.50 per gallon gas tax increase. They don't support taxes on penalty as tax penalties on married couples. They don't support increased taxes if you have kids. The Hispanic community, the Latino community around the country, though diverse, is very united, very pro- family, and the more they get to know Senator Kerry, the worse it's going to be for Senator Kerry. Not only for the Latino community, by the way, but the entire country. The more you see about and the more you learn about Senator Kerry, the worse Senator Kerry gets.

GIBSON: Mr. Villarigosa, there is another issue, and that is a lot of Hispanics living outside of California. I understand there's a lot of Mexican-Americans there, and a lot of Mexican immigrants there, and there is sort of a democratic echo chamber in the state of California. It appears that President Bush, his own people are saying, all he needs is 40 percent of the Hispanic vote nationwide to carry the election; doesn't need a plurality or a majority of Hispanics, just about 40 percent. Do you think that there's a chance he can get that 40 percent?

VILLARIGOSA: No, I don't. In fact, I think that John Kerry and John Edwards will get somewhere in the neighborhood of 70-72 percent of the vote, and with that, I expect that he will be the next president of the United States. And he will because contrary to what you just heard, John Kerry does have a strong belief and faith and a real understanding of the family values aren't just defined by gay marriage.

GIBSON: Mr. Villarigosa, the Democratic Party seems to stand for gay marriage, do you think that the Hispanic community does?

VILLARIGOSA: As I was saying, I think that John Kerry and John Edwards understand...

GIBSON: Well, Mr. Villarigosa, I'm asking a question. The Hispanic community, will it support a party, the Democratic Party that supports gay marriage?

VILLARIGOSA: Absolutely because they know that's only one issue. There are many issues: health care, education, immigration reform. As you know, President Bush campaigned on providing comprehensive immigration reform, and has never kept his promise.

GIBSON: All right. I've got to run.

Congressman Diaz Balart, thanks very much. Mr. Villarigosa, thank you.

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