Pennsylvania governor defends Latino comments

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HARRISBURG -- The governor's office issued a lengthy response Wednesday to a video showing Gov. Tom Corbett saying he has no Latino staff members and adding: "If you can find us one, please let me know."

The statement said Mr. Corbett was referring to "his immediate staff, which consists of a handful of people." The statement named three Latinos Mr. Corbett has nominated or appointed -- a former health secretary, the director of an advisory commission on Latino affairs and a nominee, not confirmed, for the Liquor Control Board -- and says there are nearly 1,500 Latinos working in the Corbett administration.

The clip, from an interview Friday in Philadelphia, surfaced in a post Wednesday on the liberal blog Think Progress. It shows Mr. Corbett seated with a questioner who asks if he has any staff members who are Latino.

"No, we do not have any staff members," he said. "If you can find us one, please let me know."

When the woman responded that she was "sure" there were Latinos, Mr. Corbett turned, apparently toward an audience, and asked: "Do any one of you want to come to Harrisburg?" People off-camera laughed, and the governor raised his hands and said, "See?"

The governor's office issued an unusually vigorous news release in which press secretary Kevin Harley labeled the episode "just another attempt by a liberal blog in Washington, D.C., to malign the governor." He said the comment had been taken out of context from an hourlong interview with Al Dia, a Philadelphia-based newspaper.

Earlier in the clip, Mr. Corbett is asked how the emergence of the Latino vote has effected his political and economic positions.

"I look at the Latino, the African-American and Italian and German, whatever, they're all voters. I represent every one of them," he said. "When it comes to the economy, trying to grow jobs is in the best interest of every nationality in Pennsylvania."

The state population in 2011 was 5.9 percent Latino or Hispanic origin, compared to 16.7 percent nationally, according to the U.S. Census.

electionspa - state

Karen Langley: klangley@post-gazette.com or 717-787-2141.


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