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Black, Latino officials barnstorm for Obama

Yawu Miller | 10/17/2012, 9:24 a.m.

“We’ve built hundreds of units of housing because of federal, state and local government investment,” he says. “On health care, we were at a point where 70 percent of black and Hispanic people had health insurance. Now, 95 percent of us are covered. With Romney, you don’t know what you will get.”

Jackson argues that many of his constituents would be negatively impacted by the cuts to government programs Romney is promising.

“This election will decide whether we are going to stop investing in our young people and take away our investment in our old people,” he says. “The Republicans have a policy of ‘I got mine.’ We have an economy that is continuing to grow. We need to continue that growth and allow Obama to continue what he started.”

Forry, too, has been highlighting contradictions between the Romney on the campaign trail and the Romney who governed Massachusetts.

While Romney signed Massachusetts’ health insurance reform law, on the campaign trail he has railed against the nearly identical national health care law pushed through by the Obama administration.

“Governor Romney had an opportunity to lead on that issue,” Forry says. “When he ran in the primary, he ran away from it.”

Sanchez, who served in the Legislature while Romney was governor, says he also challenges Romney’s assertion that he was a bipartisan governor.

“He vetoed us 840 times,” Sanchez says. “We overrode more than 700 of his vetoes.”

One of those vetoes was a provision in the state’s health care law that requires Mass Health to provide coverage for immigrants who are documented Massachusetts residents.

“He vetoed documented immigrants,” Arroyo says. “It was a stunning move. No one expected that. The Legislature overrode the veto.”

Romney’s veto, along with his move to rescind pre-existing executive orders mandating affirmative action in state government, did not earn the ex-governor much sympathy from Latinos and blacks in Massachusetts. And when black and Latino officials form Massachusetts bring that message to black and Latino communities across the U.S., it won’t likely help Romney move past the 25 percent mark for support among Latinos or the 0 percent support he’s polling at with blacks.

Sanchez says much of the work the Obama campaign is engaged in is mobilizing black and Latino communities to vote. And in the eight states he’s visited, the Obama campaign seems to have an edge in voter mobilization.

“In every state the Obama campaign has a straight-out ground operation,” he says. “When you ask what Romney has on the ground it’s nothing like what we have. He has a communication person, but no grassroots.”

Sanchez and other Latino and black elected officials are also helping with the get-out-the-vote effort in Massachusetts — canvassing, participating in rallies and making phone calls on behalf of U.S. Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren. In fact, it was during an appearance on MSNBC’s The Ed Show where Obama’s campaign staff first saw Arroyo commenting on Warren’s first debate with incumbent Sen. Scott Brown.

“I got a phone call,” Arroyo says. “They said they saw me on the show and asked if I’d go to Denver. I was stunned. I’m a kid from Hyde Park who went to public school. To have the re-election campaign of the president of the United States call me was unreal.”