The following is a copy of a speech, as prepared for delivery, by Cristina Saralegui, journalist, actress and talk show host, at the Democratic National Convention.
Hola mi gente!
Like most Latinas, I'm not afraid to speak my mind. I've asked tough people tough questions and tackled big issues on live TV. But one thing I never did until now was get involved in politics. This year is different. 2008 was an important election, but it was nothing compared to 2012.
Like Benita, I know what it's like to come to this country at a young age. I was 12 years old when, like so many cubanos, my parents fled the Castro regime. For us, America meant freedom. America was the place that said it doesn't matter where you come from, it doesn't matter what your last name is, it doesn't matter if you drink cortaditos, or lattes, or coffee with milk. Here, if you work hard, anything is possible. That's what I did.
Even though I couldn't afford to finish college, I got an internship with Vanidades magazine. I turned that internship into a job, and that job into a business and a television show, el show de Cristina, that reached 100 million viewers in 40 countries.
For me, the American promise isn't just an idea or a theory—it's my life story. I want to pass that promise on to my grandchildren, Domenic and Cristina Maria. I want them to grow up in the kind of country I did. That's what this election is about.
Mi gente, for the first time in my life, the promise of America is in danger. Nearly every part of Governor Romney's plan would put the American dream further out of reach. In order to cut taxes for those at the very top, he would raise taxes for middle class families, slash education, and cut student aid. Governor Romney would turn Medicare from a guarantee into una libreta de cupones—a book of coupons. He would repeal health care reform, forcing millions of Hispanics to lose insurance. Governor Romney's plan is really just one word: pa'trás—backward.
We need to move forward—pa'lante! We need to re-elect our President Obama. Our president fights for us every day. He helped prevent a second Great Depression. He cut taxes for middle-class families and small businesses. He fought for health care reform, which is already helping millions of Americans afford insurance. His education policies mean Hispanics will receive an estimated 150,000 more college scholarships. He is on our side. And he knows we still have work to do.
President Obama has a detailed plan—you can find it right on his website. It's a plan to grow our economy from the middle class out and the bottom up, not from the top down; a plan to invest in education and manufacturing; and a plan to pass comprehensive immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship.
On immigration, Governor Romney's views could not be more extreme. He says we should make life so unbearable for eleven million people that they simply "self-deport." He said that Arizona's immigration law should be a "model" for our country. He even made the architect of that terrible law an immigration advisor for his campaign. No protesten—voten! And he has promised to veto the Dream Act.
This election is about many things, but if you want to understand the values of the two candidates, all you have do is think about Benita, the lady who introduced me. Governor Romney calls young people like her "illegal aliens." President Obama calls them "dreamers." That is the difference in this election.
So I'm asking toda mi gente—all of my people—to join me. Many of us come from countries where votes aren't counted properly or are not counted at all. Here, we Latinos have a powerful voice, but only if we use it. That begins with making sure you're registered to vote. So I want you to go to gottavote.com—in Spanish, that's votemostodos.com. They have everything you need to get registered. Make sure your friends and family are registered, too.
Charlotte, let me ask you: estas con nosotros? Are you in? Will you register voters? Will you talk to your family and friends? Will you fight for the dream we all believe in? Will you keep the promise of this country alive? Estamos unidos—let's do this together. Pa'lante, pa'lante, pa'trás ni pa' coger impulso. Thank you!