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WBFO brings you NPR's live coverage of the Republican National Convention tonight from 9pm-11pm.

Clinton Eyes Support in the Rio Grande Valley

An employee works in the kitchen of the Keno Cafe in Weslaco, Texas, one the Rio Grande Valley towns where New York Sen. Hillary Clinton is hoping to win major support.
Thomas Pierce/NPR
An employee works in the kitchen of the Keno Cafe in Weslaco, Texas, one the Rio Grande Valley towns where New York Sen. Hillary Clinton is hoping to win major support.
Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Hillary Clinton is greeted in traditional fashion by Marcos Mancera, 5 years old, in El Paso, Texas.
Rick Gershon / Getty Images
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Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Hillary Clinton is greeted in traditional fashion by Marcos Mancera, 5 years old, in El Paso, Texas.
Supporters listen to Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Hillary Clinton at the Don Haskins Arena on Feb. 12 in El Paso, Texas.
Rick Gershon / Getty Images
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Supporters listen to Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Hillary Clinton at the Don Haskins Arena on Feb. 12 in El Paso, Texas.

The most populous state yet to vote this year in the presidential primaries is Texas.

Along with Ohio, Texas is the centerpiece of New York Sen. Hillary Clinton's comeback strategy. Both states vote on March 4. One Clinton adviser, James Carville, has said that Clinton must win both contests to sustain her campaign.

In Texas, Clinton is counting on support in the heavily Hispanic Rio Grande Valley.

It is a place that Clinton loves to mention in her speeches because she came to the Rio Grande Valley 35 years ago to register voters.

These days, her visits receive greater fanfare. The television anchors have been covering her rallies, along with her campaign stops to court the Hispanic vote.

Those headlines are not necessarily big news to everyday voters, including the regulars at Keno Café, such as Raymond Gonzalez. He says he did not know about Clinton's recent visit but had heard she had lost several primaries and caucuses to her rival for the Democratic presidential nomination, Illinois Sen. Barack Obama.

Gonzalez says he plans to vote for Obama because of Obama's recent string of victories.

At a table nearby, Chris Nunn says she and her family are Clinton supporters.

"My mother hasn't voted in 20 years, and she's already made sure that she's got her voter's registration up to date and everything," she said. "Both my parents are voting for Hillary."

When day turns to night in the Rio Grande Valley, there is a good scene at Jalapenos, a bar outside the city of McAllen. The mariachi band is always ready to play — on demand, for a fee.

Jesse Paez is working on a beer and some chips and salsa.

He says Hillary Clinton and her husband have been making trips to South Texas for years. But he notes that many trips have included some exclusive fundraisers.

"A ton of money they raise down here, which I strongly disagree with, because this is a very poor part of the country, an extremely poor part of the country," Paez says.

Still, Paez says many Texans adore the Clintons and plan to vote for Hillary Clinton. He believes she will easily win.

That may be true — as long as people come out to vote. In the 2004 election, so few people turned out in this area that the state Democratic Party had to cut the number of delegates awarded from South Texas.

At the table behind Paez, Jose Gonzalez and Maria Alaniz are on break from a nearby nursing home. Gonzalez says if he votes, it will be for Clinton.

"She knows more and she's more open to the problems of Mexican people. That's what I understand," he said. Then he spoke about Obama. "He's so young. I don't think he has any experience if he wants to be running."

Alaniz says she probably won't vote. As it is, between her shifts at the nursing home, she barely has time to grab a drink at Jalapenos.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

David Greene
David Greene is an award-winning journalist and New York Times best-selling author. He is a host of NPR's Morning Edition, the most listened-to radio news program in the United States, and also of NPR's popular morning news podcast, Up First.