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Obama Has ‘Binder Of Latinos’ Problem With Cabinet

Audio

Aired 1/15/13

President Barack Obama’s press conference Monday was dominated by questions about the “debt ceiling” and gun control, but he was also quizzed about diversity on his second term cabinet.

— President Barack Obama’s press conference Monday was dominated by questions about the “debt ceiling” and gun control, but he was also quizzed about diversity on his second term cabinet.

It was the last question of the press conference and Obama was asked about the diversity in his picks for the new cabinet.

Obama said critics should wait until the cabinet is complete, and he pointed to his record.

“So if you think about my first four years, the person who probably had the most influence on my foreign policy was a woman," he said.

His answer was focused on gender diversity – the "binders of women" issue - but dodged the issue of racial diversity. And Latinos are noticing.

“It’s a question of optics," said Allert Brown-Gort of the Kellogg Institute for International Studies at Notre Dame. He said Latino voters care about something more substantial.

“What is really going to show much more whether Obama has the interest of the Latino community in heart and in mind is really has to do much more with how much more political capital gets put into immigration reform," he said.

Brown-Gort also said since Latinos are relative new comers to national power politics it’s not easy finding qualified Latinos to fill the cabinet posts.

“Latinos have not produced the depth that we need -- yet -- at the level," he said. “There not that many Hilda Solises out there.”

Rodolfo Espino is a professor of political science at Arizona State University. He said the Latino activists who are demanding three appointments in the second term cabinet need to come to grips with an unpleasant fact.

“That so-called binder full of Hispanics may not be as full as they may want,” Espino said.

Instead, Espino said focus on the substance of the administration’s policies and fight for undersecretary appointments -- so the next time there’s a Democrat putting together a cabinet, that binder is overflowing.

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