rodriguez.jpgThe Chicago Tribune has a profile today of Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, calling him one of a “new generation of evangelical kingmakers on the political scene.”:

Fearing the loss of a constituency that helped push Bush to re-election, Republican candidates are turning to Rodriguez for help. A dynamic, fast-talking preacher of Puerto Rican descent, Rodriguez, 38, has been dubbed by some Christian leaders the Karl Rove of Hispanic evangelical strategy. He represents a new generation of evangelical kingmakers on the political scene.

From God-o-Meter’s read of the rest of the article, however, Huckabee is the only presidential candidate to ask Rodriguez for help on the campaign trail. That’s a surprise, given what the Trib reports about the electoral clout of Latino evangelicals in Florida and beyond:

Latino evangelicals in that state [Florida] amount to about 40 percent of the Hispanic population…. At least 8 million Americans identify themselves as Latino evangelicals. While there are no precise estimates of how many are registered voters, exit polls from previous elections give a sense of how important they can be, especially for Republicans. According to a report by the Pew Forum, Bush’s biggest gain in the 2004 election came from Latino Protestants. The report said 64 percent of them voted for Bush, an increase from the 33 percent who voted for him in 2000.

God-o-Meter’s eyebrows also arched at this graph:

Democrats have been less eager in their embrace of Latino evangelical leaders than Republicans. Rodriguez took the initiative to call Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. The campaign of Obama, who drew good reviews after an appearance in December 2006 before an evangelical megachurch in California, was open to the idea of a conference call with Latino pastors, Rodriguez said. He said Clinton has not yet responded.

No call back from Clinton? She was expected to set the standard for Democratic faith outreach in this cycle, but God-o-Meter is hearing much more about Obama’s operation.


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