Actress and political activist Eva Longoria will be one of the featured speakers at the Democratic National Convention tonight. She gives a preview of her speech and talks about why she believes Obama appeals to women and to the Latino community.
Eva Longoria isn’t going to give away details about her upcoming speech at the Democratic National Convention on Thursday night, but she can promise one thing: “No empty chairs.’’
Referring to the bizarre speech by Clint Eastwood that involved talking to an empty chair at the Republic National Convention in Tampa on Aug. 30, Longoria told Savannah Guthrie on TODAY Thursday that her approach would be different. Eastwood did his empty-chair performance as he introduced Mitt Romney; Longoria will play that role at the DNC when she speaks before President Obama takes the stage in Charlotte on Thursday night. The former “Desperate Housewives” star is a co-chair of Obama's national re-election campaign and well-versed in his policy.
“(Eastwood) had a different narrative,’’ Longoria said. “Everyone keeps comparing us because we’re both from the entertainment industry, but I’m a co-chair for the campaign. I’m on the ground, I’ve been in swing states, I’ve been talking to the American people, I’ve been out there speaking on behalf of Obama’s record, I’ve been in the trenches. My narrative tonight with my speech and what I’m going to tell the American people is very different than what Clint did. No empty chairs.’’
Longoria first became involved with presidential politics when she volunteered for the Bill Clinton campaign in 1992. She brushed off the notion that celebrities should just keep their mouths shut when it comes to politics.
“I’m very literate on policy,’’ she said. “I’m very literate on the issues, and I’m an American first. I’ve been involved in politics long before I was an actress. I just happen to have a platform now. I just happen to have a voice.
“I’ve been involved for a very long time. I also care very deeply about our country. I find it irresponsible to go, ‘She’s an actress, what does she know?’ That means if you’re a dentist, what do you know? If you’re a lawyer, what do you know? It’s our profession, it’s what we do. It’s not who we are.’’
Longoria, a Mexican-American born in Texas, also has advocated for numerous Latino causes. The Latino vote has become a growing and important segment in the presidential race, but Longoria believes one particular issue has been overblown in how it relates to Hispanic voters.
“Immigration is not the top issue for Latinos,’’ Longoria said. “Latinos are like every other American – economy, jobs, healthcare, education.”
The Democrats have done a better job of reaching out to immigrants and also working toward policies to benefit them, according to Longoria.
“Watching the Republican convention in Tampa and hearing all of these stories about their immigrant stories… the way they treat immigrants today is not reflective of their stories,’’ Longoria said. “We heard (San Antonio mayor) Julian Castro speak (at the DNC). We were here witnessing history. We heard him tell us his American dream story and how he was able to achieve what he has. The Latino market is very important to us.’’
Longoria believes Obama’s policies have benefited women and Hispanics during his time in office.
“I think what’s important is that our campaign has not taken these for granted,’’ she said. “I think everybody assumes women are going to vote Democratic and that Latinos are. If you look at Obama’s track record in his first term, he has really spoken to these two communities.
“He’s just moving the country forward for women, whether it’s equal pay for equal work or small business taxes, or access to health care. As far as Hispanics, he has really done a lot to help Hispanics. Doubling the Pell grants allows more Hispanics to go to school, (and) the Affordable Care Act has allowed nine million more Hispanics to have access to affordable healthcare."
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Democrats gather in Charlotte, N.C., to officially nominate President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden as the party's candidates for the 2012 presidential election.