Hillary Clinton’s ‘abuela’ campaign sparks Twitter backlash

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NEW YORK — She worries about children everywhere. She knows what's best. She knows the Spanish word for respect. So Hillary Clinton has a lot in common with your abuela... or grandmother, right?

Apparently not.

Hispanic voters took offense to the Clinton campaign's attempt to pander to Hispanic voters or #Hispandering as some called it on Twitter.  The reactions ranged from humorous, one tweet asking Clinton if she's familiar with Goya Adobo, to hurt, one user calling the post out of touch and demeaning. All tweets using #NotMyAbuela.

"It's an overreach, which does not look genuine," said Fordham University Political Science Professor Christina Greer.  "It comes across as not well thought out.  And, as you've seen the response on Facebook and Twitter and other places, it can come off as quite frankly insulting."

Greer says the post is a far cry from the cry of "Si se puede" or "yes we can" used by President Obama to rally support from Hispanic voters during the 2012 election.

But political experts say the abuela comparison is Clinton's attempt to maintain the support of Latino voters who supported Obama's campaign in an overwhelming majority.

This time around, it could be harder to inspire those voters to head to the polls.

"Many Latinos are essentially feeling like many Black American voters, which is you don't really have a choice between two parties," said Greer.  "It's either you vote democratic or you stay home."

But Jeanne Zaino at Iona College says this attempt by the Clinton campaign is a misstep because it's not genuine.

"If they want to appeal to Latinos, if they want to appeal to Hispanics, you know there are issue based reasons that they can do that that are true to who Hillary Clinton is," said Zaino.

The increased effort to reach Hispanic voters shows the impact of other candidates on both sides of the aisle who have made issues like immigration so important in the upcoming election.  Which is why Zaino says it's important for candidates to make it clear where they stand rather than pandering to voters.

"Women candidates have tried to appeal to women voters in these types of ways and it's often unsuccessful because women voters, like all voters, are not going to be taken by the idea that you're a woman so I'm going to vote for you regardless of where you stand," said Zaino.  "And I think Latino voters, Hispanic voters want to know where she stands and how it benefits them and the country as a whole and that's where the focus should be.  And I think the campaign does itself a disservice by not making that case."

But Greer says missteps like this one are becoming far more common in the current political landscape.  The switch to social media to reach voters will likely mean many more slip-ups before the election is over.

"It's not just about a television interview.  It can be a tweet, it can be a Facebook post, it can be an ad," said Greer.  "So I think we've just entered a new level of politics that will change the way politicians need to think about the people that they're asking to vote for them."

So how big of a slip-up is this for Clinton's campaign?  Given the storms she's been able to weather in the past both experts we spoke to say this will only be a small blip on the radar come election time.  But both said Clinton still has a lot of work to do if she hopes to capture the overwhelming minority vote like President Obama did in the last two elections.

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