Television talk show host Cristina Saralegui announced her endorsement of President Barack Obama, saying this weekend that there's too much at stake not to speak up when Hispanics could "very well decide the next election."
It is the first-ever presidential endorsement for the popular Miami media figure, often called the "Hispanic Oprah" for her two-decade run on Univisión. Obama for America released a video in English and Spanish with a message from Saralegui to the Hispanic community.
"President Obama, I was very fortunate to live the American dream and I know that only you will make it possible for millions more to do the same," she said in a statement provided by the campaign. "You’ve had our back, and now, with utmost respect and admiration, I have yours."
She is "one of the most trusted names in the Hispanic community and we're honored to have Cristina be a spokesperson for the campaign, speaking directly to Hispanic voters about the President's accomplishments," said campaign spokesman Jim Messina.
Her nod comes at a time when both Obama and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney are actively seeking Hispanic voters. Both men will travel to Florida this week to speak in Orlando at the annual conference of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials.
To that end, the Obama administration announced plans Friday to prevent the deportations of hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States illegally as children. Those young people won't vote in November's election, but support for their plight is seen among many Latino voters as an important sign of respect for the wider Hispanic community.
Hispanics have embraced the policy change, which was panned by many Republicans -- Romney called for a more permanent legislative fix, as did Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., who has been talking about similar legislation but has not yet released it.
The administration's directive allows young illegal immigrants who were raised in the United States to remain for two years under a deferred deportation. Unlike the DREAM Act supported by Democrats, the administrative action does not provide a path to citizenship.
The 64-year-old Saralegui said she was moved to endorse Obama's re-election because she believes he "understands the Hispanic community and has supported it unconditionally." She said she will "do everything I can from now until November to ensure that President Obama is re-elected."
"It wasn’t until this election, and because of what I see in President Obama and know he’s accomplished, that I decided to get involved," she said. "President Obama is a principled man who has worked hard to put healthcare and a good education in the reach of millions of Americans and believes that everyone who works hard and plays by the rules, should have a fair shot at the American dream."
Saralegui was born in Cuba and is the granddaughter of pre-revolutionary Havana publishing king Francisco Saralegui. She began her career at one of his magazines, Vanidades.
El Show de Cristina, launched on Univisión in 1989, was for many years among Spanish-language TV's top shows. It was cancelled in 2009 as ratings declined. Saralegui last year launched "Pa'lante con Cristina" on Telemundo, but she announced earlier this month that the show would not continue for another year. She also has a weekly talk show on her Sirius XM Radio channel, "Cristina Radio."