Hispanic Faith Voters Face Tough Choice

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DENVER - Reaching people of faith is a clear goal for Democrats this week, but they are also giving specific attention to Hispanics.

A majority of this group identify themselves as Catholic or evangelical and for many, their faith makes it difficult to know which way to vote.

Click play to view Heather Sells' report and Pat Robertson's comments on The 700 Club about Hispanic voters, as seen on August 30, 2008.

The nation's 46 million Hispanics loom as a potential swing vote this year, strategically placed on the electoral map.

Faith is another key identity: 83 percent say they're either Catholic or evangelical.

Another trend: about two-thirds of Latino registered voters lean Democratic.

Like Honduran Immigrant Antonio Hernandez.

"(Democrats) fall a little closer to the lower classes than the Republicans do. I think they've been a little closer to the Hispanic community," Hernandez said.

Democrats are showing how serious they are about courting Hispanics this year by pumping $20 million into their outreach. And of course, their decision to head west for their convention, where so many Hispanics live, makes a strong statement as well.

But because of their faith, many Hispanics say it's a difficult choice.

"When Hispanic Christians go to the voting booth they have a tough call to make -- 'do I go in there as a Christian first or as a Hispanic-American first?' said Samuel Rodriquez with the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference.

Rodriguez says many are troubled by Obama's positions on abortion and marriage.

"Man and woman, mom and dad in the home. To us, it's the primary antidote to juvenile deliquency, teen pregnancy, gang activity -- and these are proven scientific facts," he said.

Democrats have expanded the abortion platform this year to include talk of abortion reduction. But there are skeptics.

"I don't think (the platform) will change the practicing Catholic or the conservative evangelical. It's too little too late," said Alejandro Bermudez with Acipresa, an organization dedicated to keeping Hispanic Catholics informed.

However, many Hispanics do believe Democrats understand their economic needs. And while they appreciate McCain's work on immigration reform, they're troubled by the GOP's often inflammatory anti-immigration rhetoric.

"The media pundits, those on talk radio that basically speak on behalf of the Republican Party, not officially, but they become the de facto, prophetic voices of the Republican Party and as a result, you're alienating a naturally conservative base," Rodriguez said.

Projections show Hispanics will only continue to grow in numbers -- and political power. By the year 2050, they are expected to make up 29 percent of the population -- which makes them a political must-win for both parties.

*Original broadcast August 27, 2008.

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Heather Sells

Heather Sells

CBN News Reporter

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