A State Senator who criticized the dismissal of the top Latina on Hillary Clinton’s campaign now says he’ll support Barack Obama as a result.
When reached by cell phone Monday night in Albany, State Senator Ruben Diaz, Sr. said, "I never supported anyone yet, so, you know, if I support Obama? Yes. I am with Obama, yes."
Diaz, who has had a history of criticizing his fellow Democrats in New York, said, "Hillary’s campaign has been going down because of Bill Clinton, William Jefferson Clinton. Because people like Charlie Rangel, who called Obama stupid."
But the final straw, Diaz, said, was the removal of Patti Solis Doyle as Clinton’s campaign manager, which was announced over the weekend. The next day, Diaz, along with Assemblyman Jose Peralta, sent a letter to Clinton’s campaign saying they felt the Hispanic community was being ignored, and Doyle treated as a scapegoat.
"It is hard to understand how the Hispanic community that has been there to keep your campaign alive could remain in your corner when the first Hispanic woman to serve as your presidential campaign manager has ‘resigned’ from her post," Diaz and Peralta wrote.
They went on to say, "Although we are inclined to believe that Patti Solis Doyle did resign, we would like you to realize that it will be very troubling to many if somehow we later find that she left her post under pressure because of the recent primary losses your campaign suffered. If so, we will have many questions about why a Hispanic woman who has helped to build Latino support for you throughout the nation would have been the one to take the blame and resign from her post instead of others involved with your campaign, including former President Clinton, who have caused serious problems and embarrassing situations for your campaign."
In the phone interview, Diaz told me, "This is the first Hispanic woman ever to run a presidential campaign. By replacing her, the message they are sending is that they are losing because of a campaign manger. So, at the end, what they are going to do is ruin this lady’s career."
Peralta told me, "This is not a hostile letter. This is just trying to make sure that Hillary Clinton does not forget Latinos because she is going to bank on Latinos to win the election in Texas, she is going to bank on Latinos to win the election in Ohio and Pennsylvania."
When told of Diaz’s decision to support Obama, Peralta said, "He said he was? Oh, the Reverend is always controversial in that way," and added, "Latinos still like Hillary. They’re just concerned they may have been taken for granted."
Peralta said he was representing constituents who "wanted to make sure that there wasn’t that distancing of Hillary Clinton from them in trying to court, not only a courting of another ethnic group, but forgetting about another ethnic group, being the Latinos."
When reached for a comment, a spokesman for Clinton’s campaign referred to Doyle’s comments in the AP, where she said, "This is my decision, my choice, my timing," and "I was really, really proud to be the first Hispanic woman to run a presidential campaign and particularly proud of the way Hispanics turned out and they turned out for Hillary."