DES MOINES, Iowa - Democratic presidential candidate and former governor of Maryland, Martin O'Malley, made a stop at the 14th annual Iowa Latino Heritage Festival Sunday afternoon to talk to Latino voters.
O'Malley spoke at the Civic Engagement & Presidential Candidate Soapbox, a new feature this year organized by the non-partisan group, Iowa Latino Forum.
O'Malley touched on a number of issues in his appeal to Latinos, including raising the minimum wage, providing easier access to higher education, and reforming the country's immigration system. He also sought to drive a stark contrast between himself and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, who has made some controversial comments on illegal immigration and Latinos.
"So I don't believe, like Donald Trump, that the enduring symbol of our country is barbed-wire fences and chainlink fences, and internment camps," he said. "I believe the enduring symbol of our country is the Statue of Liberty, and we need to remember that and act like it."
O'Malley joins Bernie Sanders, another Democratic presidential hopeful, as the only two to speak to voters at the festival this weekend. The Iowa Latino Forum says it extended invites to all presidential candidates on both sides of the aisle, but most invitations were not responded to. For one voter, Alba Perez, O'Malley and Sanders simply showing up makes a significant impression.
"One of the most important things to me is respect," she said. "And respect is manifested in so many different ways. Like listening to the public, listening to the issues if you're talking to Latinos, addressing the issues that are important to the Latinos - that resonates with me. Sometimes campaigns come and go, parties call you one day before election or not, and that doesn't show a lot of respect for the Latino vote."