WASHINGTON - Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton reached out to Hispanic voters this past week in a bid to boost their voter support. With about 400 days before the election, opinion polls show that rivals are catching up to both frontrunners.
Hillary Clinton addressed 2,000 people at the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute on Wednesday. In brief remarks preceding President Barack Obama's speech on immigration, Clinton said too many people fail to see how vital Hispanic people are to the United States.
"Latinos make America stronger. You make America smarter. You make America more creative and innovative," she said.
Clinton also took the opportunity to lash at rivals who have made remarks some Hispanics find offensive.
"It's a problem when a leading Republican candidate for pre says that immigrants from Mexico are rapists and drug dealers," she said.
Trump on immigration
Leading Republican candidate Donald Trump has said that many of the illegal immigrants from Mexico are criminals. The billionaire real-estate mogul has not lost support for those remarks and has refused to apologize.
"People said can you apologize? I said, I can't do that because I know I am right. I know I am right," he said.
But during a campaign stop in Las Vegas this week, Trump paid special attention to Hispanic voters. A woman from Colombia joined him on the stage.
"I am Hispanic and a vote for Mr. trump. We vote for Mr. Trump. Yeeey! Mr. Trump, we love you. We love you all the way to the White house," she said.
Some Hispanic Americans, including influential artists, are not so quick to forgive.
"Latinos are very strong and I think he [Donald Trump] went overboard. I'm really disappointed in him," said recording artist Chiquis Marin Rivera. "Before I used to admire him as a businessman, I thought he was a very intelligent man, and now I can't say that about him anymore."
In addition to wooing Hispanics, both Trump and Clinton are signaling new strategies to attract voters.
In recent weeks, Clinton's husband, former President Bill Clinton, has come out to speak on her behalf, and Trump has said that his wife and daughter will speak for him on women's issues.