Tuesday, December 11, 2007

In Denison, Pena Pitches Obama

DENISON -- U.S. Sen Barack Obama is earning significant points with the Hispanic community his supporting drivers' licenses for illegal immigrants a controversial issue on which his chief rivals either disagree with him or have heavily nuanced positions.

Federico Pena, the former Clinton Administration transportation official who is supporting Obama for the presidency, says the drivers' license issue has traction in the Latin community.

“Sure, because it is a practical approach,” Pena, the former Denver mayor, tells Iowa Independent. “We have to get back to things that work. What we’ve learned in states like New Mexico and other states is that motorists do not want to be worried about getting hit by a person driving a car who has never taken a driver’s course.”

Pena said 40,000 people are killed annually on highways.

“We have to find other ways to reduce the fatalities,” he said.

Pedro Rodriguez of Denison says the Hispanic community sees Obama, a candidate with a mixed-race family, as having a "birds-eye" view of many cultures.

"He's got a knowledge of how to approach things from a different cultural level," said Rodriguez, 51, a supervisor with a packing house in Denison.

During an event here with Federico Pena, Rodriguez and Luis Navar, a local Latino activist, served as pitch men to their community for the Illinois senator.

“He can bring together all the communities,” Navar said.

Navar, who runs a construction company here, held an event in his home for Pena. For his part Navar said he went with Obama over New Mexico Gov. Richardson.

Pena said he believes Obama can put an end to the cultural wars of the Baby Boom generation.

“The reason that I’m supporting Barack Obama is that he doesn’t participate in those old battles of the last century,” Pena said. “He’s really a 21st century leader and I think the world is looking for a 21st century leader in the United States. We don’t need to fight the old partisan battles and the old cultural battles of the last century. We are fastly moving into a new century.”

This story is cross-posted at Iowa Independent.com.

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