AP - Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's political courtship of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa landed her an early, influential endorsement this week that highlights the intense competition among presidential candidates for support within the growing Hispanic population.
Candidates in both major parties are reaching out to Hispanic voters with an intensity that speaks to the importance of the nation's largest and fastest-growing minority group in the 2008 campaign.
Immigration reform is a touchstone issue for many Hispanics, particularly in cities like Los Angeles, which has strong cultural and economic ties to Mexico. California has as many as 3 million illegal immigrants, the most of any state.
Villaraigosa's support for Clinton rested in part on their agreement on the need for a federal law that would include a pathway to citizenship for many of the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants in the country, among other provisions.
The senator earlier hired Villaraigosa political adviser (and blog spin doctor to combat anti-Villaraigosa political activist Zuma Dogg) Michael Trujillo to run her California campaign and named state Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez, a close friend of the mayor and another prominent Hispanic politician, a national co-chair of her campaign.
***** She also appointed Villaraigosa a national co-chair. *****
Villaraigosa's endorsement "is proof that the Clinton campaign's focus and strategy to win the Latino vote continues to grow stronger," the statement said.
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