Via Media Lizzy‘s podcast,
As Barack Obama and John McCain battle for the Hispanic vote, a leading Latino backer of Hillary Clinton is crossing party lines to support the Republican presidential nominee.
In an interview Thursday, Miguel D. Lausell, a Puerto Rican businessman and longtime Democratic activist and fund-raiser, came out for Sen. McCain. While he said he doesn’t agree with all the policy positions of the Republican candidate and his running mate, Sarah Palin, Mr. Lausell added: “I find McCain to be a sound person and a man with a track record. I know where he is coming from.” Mr. Lausell had been a major backer of Bill Clinton and served as a senior political adviser to Sen. Clinton’s unsuccessful bid this year for the Democratic presidential nomination.
Mr. Lausell said he feels Sen. Obama “doesn’t really regard the Hispanic community as important.” Sen. Clinton won a large majority of the Hispanic vote in most primaries, and Latino voters are an important bloc in swing states such as Florida, Nevada and New Mexico. Most polls show Sen. Obama leads Sen. McCain among Latinos.
Mr. Lausell said that as a “lifelong Democrat,” this is the first time he has supported a Republican presidential candidate. A Harvard Law School graduate, Mr. Lausell’s business career has included a stint as chief executive of the Puerto Rico Telephone Co. and chairman of PonceBank, a large Puerto Rican financial institution. Mr. Lausell once had a position with the Democratic National Committee and served on a national finance board for Al Gore’s unsuccessful 2000 presidential run. In 2004, he helped start a nonprofit aimed at boosting Latino turnout for Democrats.
Let me put this in perspective: When the WSJ says that Lausell is a lifelong Democrat, it means that Lausell is one of the people who have supported the Democrats since their youth.
In Puerto Rican politics, Lausell was as committed to the Democrats as could possibly be.