12:45 pm May. 8, 2012
In an interview this morning with an Albany-based radio station, State Senator Adriano Espaillat was asked whether demographic changes in New York's 13th congressional district, which for the first time has a Latino majority, is the main impetus for his congressional challenge to 21-term incumbent Democrat Charlie Rangel.
"I think it's really been a response to the need of the constituents across the district," Espaillat said. "Not just the Latinos, but African-Americans, Asians, whites, everyone has, I feel—really wants a change."
He stressed the length of time Rangel has been in office.
"When Charlie Rangel got elected back in 1970, a year before, man walked on the moon, the Mets won a championship, Joe Namath was throwing touchdown passes for the Jets and Nixon was president," he said. "That was a long time ago. And the district evolved into a new district. Very diverse district. And I think the needs of the district need to be articulated in congress by a new bold voice."
Later, when asked what the key issues in the race were, Espaillat, who has at times stressed the historic nature of his status as the potential first-ever Dominican-American member of Congress, avoided mentioning demographics, and said, "The main issues in this race have been jobs, education and immigration ... Those are the main issues. I haven't heard, nor have I seen anyone express with lots of passion the other issues, nor have they dominated this debate."
At an "Amigos de Adriano Espaillat" last month in Upper Manhattan, Espaillat framed the race differently.
According to a video posted online by his campaign, Espaillat mentioned education, job development and housing as important, stressed what he said was the historic opportunity of electing a barrier-breaking candidate.
"This is an important moment in history," he said at that April 26 event. "This campaign is not just about the issues."
After talking about the Dream Act, he said, "That's an important issue but this campaign is not just about that."
Jobs were needed for residents in northern Manhattan, he said. "And the economy's doing bad and that's a crisis and this is an important issue but this campaign is not even about that. It's important but it's not just about that."
Then, Espaillat described the race in terms of as the fulfillment of a lif-long dream that unnamed forces are trying to stop "because I want to serve for another half a century."
More of what he said at that event:
Ultimately, this campaign is also about something very important. And that is whether your five-year-old son, or your 12-year-old daughter, when or she, no matter whether that child is Dominican, African-American or white, Asian, it doesn't matter. When they're asking the classroom 'get up and tell us what do you want to do with your life.' And that little boy says 'You know, I want to go to Congress. I want to be a congressman.' And he has to wait a half a century to do that. It is fundamentally un-American, it is fundamentally unfair for that dream of that child, or any child, in America could be stifled, could be put back, could be deferred to another generation. He or she could be told, 'Don't move until you're told to move. Don't move, it's not your time. Don't move, the conditions are not right enough because I want to be here another half a century.' It is fundamentally un-American. So this campaign is really about the American dream. This campaign is really about the American dream.
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