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Clinton's Iraq War Stance
Doesn't Trouble Velázquez

By Paula Katinas

February 23, 2008

U.S. Rep. Nydia Velázquez has been an outspoken opponent of the war in Iraq from the beginning. 

Back in 2002, she voted against authorizing President Bush to use military force in Iraq and has made numerous public statements against Bush’s war policy ever since.
           
But the Sunset Park Democrat said she has no qualms about supporting Senator Clinton for president, despite Clinton’s vote five years ago in favor of Bush’s plan.

“A lot of Democrats voted the same way.  Their votes were based on the information they had at the time,” Velázquez said.

“She is the best, most qualified candidate for president and that is why I am happy to support her,” Velázquez said.

Velázquez isn’t the only elected official in the area to throw her support behind Clinton.

Sunset Park’s key lawmakers are all in Clinton’s corner.

State Assemblyman Felix Ortiz and Councilwoman Sara Gonzalez have also backed Clinton in her bid to become the first woman president of the United States.

“To me, experience does matter.  And she has the experience to lead our country through these challenging times, “Velázquez said.

Gonzalez and Ortiz campaigned for Clinton in the community prior to the New York primary on Feb. 5.

“I did my best to bring out the voters that day,” he said.

Clinton won the largely Hispanic 51st Assembly District in Sunset Park by a 2-1 margin over her rival for the Democratic nomination, Illinois Senator Barack Obama, Ortiz said.
           
“She did very, very well in my community,” he said.

Clinton won the New York primary on Super Tuesday.

Velázquez said Clinton overwhelmingly won her district, the 12th Congressional District.
           
Clinton is enormously popular with Hispanic people all over the country, according to public opinion polls.
           
Ortiz said he knows why.
           
There is a residue of good feeling for Clinton in the Hispanic community dating back to when the senator’s husband was president, Ortiz said.
           
Bill Clinton appointed Hispanics to high-level positions in government agencies, Ortiz recalled.
           
“The appointments by Bill of Hispanics was very high.  She has recognized this, too.  She has chosen Hispanics for key positions on her campaign staff,” Ortiz said. 
           
Hispanics consider Hillary Clinton “a part of the family,” Velázquez said.
           
Ortiz said he endorsed Clinton because of her experience and leadership qualities.
           
“She has a lot of strengths.  She has a lot of experience.  It is also important to remember that she has a very clear knowledge of foreign affairs, dating back to the time she was the First Lady,” Ortiz said.
           
Velázquez also referred to Hillary Clinton’s leadership qualities.
           
“She will be able to step in and make an immediate impact on job creation, universal health care, and getting money for schools,” Velázquez said.