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Leading Salsa musician trumpets Hillary Clinton

April 16, 2008 |  1:24 pm

Is a battle of the bands shaping up in the Democratic presidential tiff?

Salsa musician and activist for Puerto Rico causes Willie Colon has endorsed Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton Or maybe a jam session featuring two contrasting -- but very talented -- musicians can be organized at the end of the primary season (or whenever the party finally decides on a presidential nominee) by Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean to bind the wounds inflicted by the "bitter" (we couldn't resist) fight between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

We raise the prospect because, with Obama today being backed by Bruce Springsteen, Clinton countered with an endorsement from Willie Colón, a leading figure in the Latin music world and an activist for the nation's Puerto Rican community.

That later aspect of Colón's resume may actually trump the Springsteen announcement. Nationwide, The Boss obviously is far better known. But a key component of Clinton's strategy for coming-from-behind in her race with Obama is to score a smashing victory in Puerto Rico's June 1 primary, and Colón's name carries more clout in the island territory than Springsteen's.

Colón, 57, was born in New York and recorded his first album -- on which he played trombone -- at age 17. Since then, he's also enjoyed success as a composer, arranger and singer. The website for Fania Records, which specializes in producing and promoting Latin sounds, says his career "has covered all facets of music, as proved by his prolific discography, which boasts more than 30 million records sold."

Colón, in a release issued by Clinton's campaign, says: "Hillary has been on the side of our families for over 35 years -– she has been with us from the very beginning. I want a President who I can count on, someone who in tough times will be there for me -- that’s why I’m supporting Hillary Clinton."

Dean should start printing those "unity" concert tickets now.

-- Don Frederick

Photo: Ricardo Betancourt

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