Clinton Links Hispanics to Stripped Delegate States

From CBS News' Ryan Corsaro:

WASHINGTON -- Hillary Clinton compared the Hispanic community to Florida and Michigan – states stripped of their delegates in the Democratic primaries - as voices that should be heard in the race for the Democratic presidential nominee.

Clinton spoke today to over 100 attendees of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in Washington.

Already taking fire for comments made by Geraldine Ferraro, a supporter of Clinton's who inferred that Barack Obama's race gave him an advantage in this election, Clinton went on to compare Latinos as a minority who needed to be counted just as Florida and Michigan voters should.

"My first job in politics was working in South Texas to register Latino voters for the 1972 presidential campaign. I threw myself into that job because I believe every vote must count and every vote deserves to have its time. And that means you've got to make it easier for people to vote and then you've got to be sure you count all the votes. It's something I believed then and it's something I believe passionately now," said Clinton.

"If you're a voter from Florida or Michigan, you know that we should count your votes. The nearly two and half million voters in those two states are who participated in the primary elections are in danger of being excluded from our Democratic process, and I think that's wrong," Clinton said.

"The results of those primaries were and they should be honored. Over the past few weeks there's been a lot of discussion about what we should do to ensure that the voters from Florida and Michigan are counted. Well, in my view, there are two options – honor those votes or hold new elections."

"We have a basic obligation to make sure every vote in America counts. And I hope Senator Obama's campaign will join me in working to make that happen. I think that is a non-partisan solution, to make sure we count those votes."

Clinton went on to say she welcomed the support of those who represent "voices never heard, especially those of the Hispanic community" to join in the debate on this issue.

Florida and Michigan were stripped of their delegates by the Democratic National Committee after attempting to move their primaries to earlier dates – a decision by the DNC that both Clinton and Obama's campaigns agreed to respect at the time.

Clinton took the stage this morning shortly after the audience was addressed by Rep. Linda Sanchez, D-Calif., who spent 20 minutes expressing her support for Obama.

While a sense of awkwardness stifled the room at first, Sanchez was applauded for her speech. Although Clinton was not named, Sanchez did say that Obama "doesn't pander and he doesn't compromise his principles" on issues such as driver's licenses for illegal immigrants, which was clearly aimed at Clinton. At a Democratic debate last fall, Clinton gave a muddled answer on whether or not she was against issuing drivers licenses to illegal immigrants, while Obama said he was in favor of the plan.