Mon, Nov 01, 2004 - Page 7 News List

Candidates court the Hispanic vote


US President George W. Bush and Senator John Kerry spent part of the final Saturday night of the White House race on the weekly Spanish-language variety show Sabado Gigante, sharing time with scantily clad showgirls and hot Latin music to court voters from the largest US minority group.

In separate interviews with Chilean emcee Mario Kreutzberger, or "Don Francisco," the two candidates talked immigration, a key issue for some 7 million Hispanic voters, and the guitar-playing Kerry revealed his fondness for fiery flamenco music.

The weekly show is enormously popular with Latinos in the US, and reaches an estimated 100 million viewers in 42 countries in all.

In a pre-recorded interview from the Map Room of the White House, Bush touted his plan to grant illegal immigrants a temporary worker card allowing them to work legally for a period of time, then return to their countries of origin.

The two candidates are courting voters who could tip the balance in tomorrow's razor-tight election, especially in the up-for-grabs states of Florida, New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado and Nevada, which have large Hispanic populations.

Both candidates peppered their comments with Spanish words and trotted out at a complete sentence in the language, which is spoken by a growing segment of the diverse US population.

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