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Popular talk show host Cristina Saralegui announced her endorsement of President Barack Obama on Monday, the first time the Latina television legend has ever publicly endorsed a presidential candidate.
“Hispanics could very well decide the next election, and I will do everything I can from now until November to ensure that President Obama is reelected. There’s simply too much at stake,” she said in a statement.
The Cuban-American icon is popularly known among Spanish-speaking television viewers as the “Latina Oprah,” whose eponymous Univision talk show was a ratings juggernaut and Latino household staple for nearly two decades.
The Obama campaign touted the endorsement, with spokesman Jim Messina adding that Saralegui is “one of the most trusted names in the Hispanic community […] We’re honored to have Cristina be a spokesperson for the campaign, speaking directly to Hispanic voters about the President’s accomplishments.”
Obama is currently enjoying a huge lead with registered Latino voters over presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney, 61% to 27%. This polling has yet to reflect Obama’s recent immigration order, which stops the deportation of DREAM Act-eligible undocumented youth.
In response to the president’s immigration move, a beleaguered Marco Rubio said that the Republican alternative to the DREAM Act would likely be shelved until after the election, leaving the GOP little alternatives to offer Latino voters in November.
An immigrant who fled the Cuban Revolution with her parents at age 12 , Saralegui’s unique journalistic style — every Cristina began with a double thumbs-up salute and the Cuban expression “Pa’lante, pa’lante, pa’tras ni pa’ coger impulso” (“Forward, forward; don’t step back, not even to pick up the pace“) — eventually led to product endorsement deals, clothing labels, and a radio show.
In 2005, Time Magazine named Saralegui one of the “25 Most Influential Hispanics in America.” In that same year she also became the first Latina to be inducted into the Broadcasting & Cable Hall of Fame.