How do you represent Hispanic Americans?
Bob Menendez grew up the son of immigrants in a tenement building in Union City. A product of New Jersey's public schools and a graduate of the state's universities, he has served as a school board member, a mayor and a state legislator. Since 1992, he has been fighting for New Jersey families in Washington, where he rose to become the third-highest ranking Democrat in the House of Representatives before taking office in the Senate in 2006.
In Congress, he has fought to make health care more affordable for New Jersey's families and to improve schools so they prepare our children for a successful future. Now he is fighting to make college more affordable for the next generation of leaders. After September 11, 2001, Bob earned national recognition for his leadership in reforming the country's intelligence and public health systems and for fighting to establish an independent commission to investigate the terrorist attacks on our country. Today, he is working to improve the security of our bus, rail and public transit systems.
Elected by his colleagues in 2002 as the Chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, Bob Menendez became the highest-ranking Hispanic in Congressional history. He previously served as the Vice Chairman of the Democratic Caucus and has led key Task Forces on Education and Homeland Security. After being appointed by New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine, Bob was sworn in to the Senate on January 18, 2006. In November of that year, New Jerseyans elected Bob to serve a full six-year term as United States Senator. He currently serves on the Senate Committees on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs; Energy and Natural Resources; Budget; and Foreign Relations. Bob is also the Chairman of the Subcommittee on International Development and Foreign Assistance, Economic Affairs, and International Environmental Protection.
Question: What advice do you have for the Latino community?
Robert Menendez: It would be that it is a sleeping giant that I think is about to awaken and needs to wake up. It needs to wake up by using its electoral power in a way that can decide the course of events immediately in our country, and for the long term. I think the community has a transformational opportunity to change and impact not only, for example, who the next President of the United States will be – which in and of itself would be significant – but where public policy will head. When you have 17 million Latinos in the country who are eligible to vote, and when you see where they’re located in the states that are critical for an electoral victory for the next President of the United States, you have an opportunity to have transformational change by the use of your power. Our challenge . . . My message to the community would be you’ve got to use that power, because that power ultimately comes back in the things that you care about for the future of your family, for the future of the community that you live in, and in the nation that you call your own.
Recorded on: 9/12/07
The Latino community, Menendez says, is a sleeping giant.
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