New York--Univision newsman Jorge Ramos accepted the B&C/Multichannel News Lifetime of Achievement in Hispanic Television award Thursday, less than two weeks before what he called the biggest election in American history—the outcome of which he says will hinge on the rapidly expanding Hispanic community.
“Nobody can make it to the White House without Univision,” Ramos declared in his acceptance speech at the New York Hilton, on the second day of the Sixth Annual Hispanic Television Summit (complete coverage here). “That’s how simple it is. If Barack Obama or John McCain want to win Florida or Nevada, they have to talk to us.”
The anchor of Noticiero Univision and a Mexican immigrant himself, Ramos also touched on the importance and privilege of being a journalist in America, offering a behind-the-scenes look at his own interviews with the “almost spiritual” and “calm” Senator Barack Obama and the “experienced, warrior-like” Senator John McCain.
Ramos also recounted his impression of GOP vice presidential hopeful Sarah Palin.
“My interview with Sarah Palin recently was really interesting,” he said. “She’s no expert on Latino American issues or international relations but she did her homework. You might only see this politician who has been portrayed in a certain way but what I saw was a mother.”
Ramos described how Palin arrived with her daughter Piper, who brought Ramos’ children’s book, I'm Just Like My Mom; I'm Just Like My Dad, for him to sign. “[Piper] stayed for the entire interview while I asked Governor Palin about Venezuela and immigration and things like that,” he said. “This is something that you don’t see on TV and why it’s such a privilege to be a journalist. I saw a mother, not just a candidate.”
Ramos also gave his own insight into how the candidates and their VPs have been approaching the Hispanic community in the months leading up to the election this November.
“Neither Obama or McCain or Biden or Palin have been talking about immigration lately, and I think it’s fantastic,” he said. “Latinos only get recognized once every four years in America, when politicians realize that they are going to need our vote. They start to visit our communities, and speak about immigration and learn a couple of phrases in Spanish, but it’s only once every four years. For the first time with this election the Hispanic community has been able to get something for our vote. Nobody’s talking about immigration because they all realize that something has to be done.”
Ramos also joked about his encounters with George W. Bush, whose name translates as “Jorge Ramos” in Spanish, and the president’s attempts to speak Spanish.
During a Q&A after the speech, Ramos discussed the growth of the Hispanic community, remarking that “the Latino community is growing so much because Latinos love each other so much and we have so many kids. If you put together immigrants and the Latino birth rate within the country, eventually we will be in the majority.”
Ramos estimated that majority could come within “less than 100 years,” and he expects that it is this surge in the population of the Latin American community that will have a profound impact on the future of America as well as on the outcome of the 2008 presidential election.
Picking up on the well-worn campaign rhetoric about change, Ramos agreed that the country appears to be ready for a new direction.
“The only question,” he said, “is which direction we want to go.”