Presidential campaign surrogates to attend Texas forum

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*Correction: An earlier version of this article suggested, based on event literature, the presidential candidates would attend in-person. Representatives from the major campaigns will be in attendance. 

This Saturday, several representatives of the top Democratic presidential candidates will visit Texas to take part in a political forum hosted by Jolt Action, a youth-led Latino progressive organization.

The forum will feature eight presidential campaigns, including former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Bernie Sanders, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

In one-on-one interviews, the campaign representatives will discuss healthcare, immigration, racial equity, and other key issues relevant to Texas and its growing Latino population.

Here’s what we hope is discussed this weekend.

A pitch to turn Texas blue

Early state voting begins next Tuesday and Texas’ 262 delegates are bound to be on every candidate’s mind.

Audiences will hopefully hear various pitches from campaigns about why they’re the best choice to defeat Donald Trump, and if they’re smart, also explain how they can carry down-ballot races in Texas to end Republican control of the state. 

The Biden representative may point to polling showing him leading in Texas and polling showing him beating Donald Trump in the state by a higher margin than any other candidate. 

Sanders, only a few points behind in Texas and now the national frontrunner, may have his campaign point to his lead in individual contributions and highlight his strength with young voters

Michael Bloomberg’s camp could point to his significant investments, more than $24 million in TV ads in Texas alone, as proof of his electability and willingness to pour cash into a state that has historically been starved of Democratic dollars. 

An appeal to young Latinos

Latinos, particularly young Latinos, are the political future of Texas. That message has long been pushed by Jolt Action, and its likely campaigns will be asked how they plan to tackle the issues that matter most to them. That doesn’t just mean touting their stance on immigration, it also means talking about issues like college affordability and climate change that appeal to young voters.

Likewise, in polling of key states with large Latino populations, including Texas, California, and Arizona, an UnidosUS poll found most Latino voters want to see a candidate that “values diversity and brings people together.” They listed the economy, healthcare, immigration, education, and gun violence as their top issues.

In Texas, Biden is the top pick for likely Latino voters so far. A University of Texas-Tyler poll conducted in late January shows him netting 32 percent of support from those surveyed, followed closely by Sanders with 29 percent, Warren at 15 percent and Bloomberg at 13 percent. All other candidates poll in the low single digits.

Climate change

The forum on Saturday will take place in Pasadena, arguably the heartland of the Houston area’s oil & gas industry. Home to one of the country’s worst benzene-polluting refineries and a victim of perennial flooding, Pasadena is no stranger to the effects of man-made climate change.

It will be interesting to see how campaigns balance the fossil fuel industry’s economic importance to Texas while also addressing the fact that these fossil fuel industries are largely responsible for accelerating the climate crisis. 

Photo: Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

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