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Latino leader predicts voter success for John McCain

February 8, 2008 |  9:28 am

Nativo V. Lopez is the national president of the Mexican American Political Assn. (MAPA). The association endorsed Sen. Barack Obama for president.

But that doesn't stop Lopez from a rather bold prediction about Sen. John McCain, the Republicans' presumptive nominee.

Lopez predicts that McCain will surpass even President Bush's surprising support among Latinos come the November election. "My prediction is that McCain will do very, very well among Latino voters," Lopez said. "That spells disaster for a Clinton or Obama candidacy."

Lopez said McCain has succeeded in separating his reputation from his party on immigration issues and he'll be rewarded for it at the ballot box on Nov. 4. Lopez calls McCain "a compassionate conservative of substance."

And he adds: "Over the last eight to 10 years, his name has been mentioned in the Spanish-language media tens of thousands of times in favor of immigration reform."

Lopez, who was pleased with the failed candidacies of Reps. Tom Tancredo and Duncan Hunter and former Gov. Mitt Romney, all opponents of last year's immigration reform plans, says McCain has tried to make amends with anti-illegal-immigration conservatives. But he's always spoken in a respectful tone.

"He's spoken more forthrightly and honestly and not fallen into the scapegoating mode," Lopez said. "It will make a difference."

-- Joe Mathews