Area congressional candidates to debate en español
By ALBERTO TOMAS HALPERN
SAN ANTONIO – Republican Congressman Francisco “Quico” Canseco and his Democratic opponent, Pete P. Gallego, have agreed to their first debate, in Spanish.
The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) and San Antonio’s Univision station are sponsors of the Tuesday, September 25 Spanish language debate at Palo Alto College in San Antonio. The debate begins at 6 pm and admission is free. San Antonio’s Univision will air an edited version of the debate at 10 am on Saturday, September 29.
The two men are seeking to represent one of the largest, and most competitive congressional districts in the country.
The significance of a Spanish language debate cannot be overstated, nor can the role that Latino voters will play in the congressional and presidential election. Canseco and Gallego are Mexican American Latinos vying to win a predominantly Latino district that stretches from San Antonio to El Paso and encompasses hundreds of miles of border communities with Mexico.
At the Republican National Convention held in Tampa, Florida recently, Canseco was given a highly sought after speaking role, in which he addressed convention goers in English and Spanish.
The sponsors have announced that the debate will focus heavily on Social Security and Medicare.
“This will be an excellent opportunity for the candidates to explain their positions on key matters affecting our retirement security, particularly the future of Social Security and Medicare,” AARP Texas State Director Bob Jackson said this week.
“We are pleased that the candidates…have accepted to participate in this historic Spanish-language debate,” said Jeff Zimmerman, vice president, general manager and director of sales for Univision San Antonio. “The debate will address topics relevant not only to San Antonio Latinos, but the Hispanic community at-large,” Zimmerman added.
Gallego’s camp is fired up over the debate. “We’re excited to reach out to a bigger part of the electorate,” said Rebecca Acuña, a spokeswoman for Gallego’s campaign. “We feel Latinos here will overwhelmingly support Mr. Gallego over Congressman Canseco,” Acuña continued, adding that Canseco has voted against the interests of residents on numerous issues. Citing healthcare issues, Acuña said “it will be interesting to see how (Canseco) defends his positions that are unpopular with seniors everywhere.” In a press release this week, Gallego took a shot at Canseco’s record on Medicare. “Quico voted twice to turn Medicare into a voucher program. He voted to essentially take away health care from seniors and instead give them a coupon that wouldn’t fully cover their health insurance costs.”
In an email from a spokeswoman, Canseco explained the importance of having a Spanish language debate. “The 23rd District is nearly 70 percent Hispanic, many of whom are Spanish speakers, and this debate is another way to ensure that all constituents within the district have the best information on the candidates to maker their voting decision,” Canseco said.
Asked what Canseco hoped to communicate to a Spanish speaking audience, he said, “All voters are concerned with the economy and healthcare. I want the voters to know that during my time in office I have consistently voted for legislation that will lower taxes, create jobs and preserve Medicare for future generations.”
Canseco added that he has voted to repeal “Obamacare” and that, “My opponent, Pete Gallego, on the other hand, supports Obamacare and the massive cut from the vital program that cares for our seniors.”
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