May 30, 2008
By LAURA WIDES-MUNOZ
Move over Obama girl.
More than 20 stars from the Latin music and film community released a Spanish-language video in support of Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama on Thursday, days before Puerto Rico's primary.
The video, "Podemos con Obama," or "We can With Obama," features such Puerto Ricans as actor John Leguizamo and hip hop artist Don Omar, and international pop stars Alejandro Sanz and Paulina Rubio. Actors George Lopez and Jessica Alba also participated.
The video comes as Obama seeks to woo Hispanic voters, who generally have preferred rival Hillary Rodham Clinton in the primaries.
Obama, who is closing in on the Democratic nomination, also is looking ahead to a general election where many Hispanics who tend to favor Democrats may consider Republican John McCain because he supports allowing those in the U.S. illegally to eventually become citizens.
Produced by Andres Levin, the video was inspired by one he made earlier this year Black Eyed Peas frontman will.i.am, titled "We Are The Ones," and unveiled just before the Democratic primaries in Texas and Ohio in March. Both Alba and Lopez also participated in that ad.
The video opens with Spanish text that says President Bush was re-elected in 2004 by roughly 3.5 million votes, and that 8 million Hispanics who were eligible to vote did not.
"Your vote makes all the difference," the video says before Sanz appears playing guitar.
Clinton is favored to win Puerto Rico's primary Sunday, but how well Obama does could signal how much work he has to do win over the broader Hispanic community. Last week, he gave a policy speech on Latin America in which he restated his willingness to meet Cuban President Raul Castro under certain conditions. He also said he would immediately allow relatives to travel to and send money to the island.
Clinton's campaign touts her long history with Puerto Rico, and with Hispanic voters generally. The claim comes with the implicit correlation that many will not vote for Obama, who is black, because of tensions between the two communities in some parts of the U.S. over jobs and other resources.
But in a sign of the complicated racial and ethnic politics at play, many of the Hispanic artists in the video also are black.
About half the artists are U.S. citizens, but the inclusion of people like Sanz, a Spaniard, and Mexico's Rubio is nod to the influence of Latin cultural icons across borders and to the continued ties between Hispanics in the U.S. and Latin America.
"The Latino voting community in the states is very wide, and there are many age groups," Levin said. "Every different artist in the video has a completely different fan base, so I hope everyone who sees it will identify with their favorite artist."