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McCain and Obama Trade Inaccuracies in Spanish-Language Ads

New America Media, News Report, Elena Shore Posted: Sep 19, 2008

Editors Note: John McCain and Barack Obama are facing off in Spanish-language ads calling into question each others commitment to immigration reform but their attempts to woo Latino voters may be backfiring. Elena Shore monitors Spanish language media for New America Media.

John McCain and Barack Obama launched a new ad war in Spanish this week. But the ads, instead of attracting Latinos to their respective folds, could backfire on them, say Spanish-language media.

As they throw accusations back and forth about who is more committed to immigration reform, other issues important to Latinos seem to be getting lost.

In a column titled, This Is Not About Immigration, La Opinin political editor Pilar Marrero wonders if the immigration issue has itself become a distraction in the presidential election campaign. While we are discussing whether it was good for Barack Obama to support certain amendments to the immigration reform bill that later failed, or what John McCains current position on immigration reform really is, we arent paying attention to what these candidates can and cant offer us when it comes to the economy, education, health care, etc., she writes.

McCains new ad blames Obama and other Democrats for blocking the passage of an immigration reform bill in the Senate last year.

But members of the Hispanic media remain unconvinced. In an editorial titled McCains Bad Pitch, New Yorks El Diario/La Prensa notes that how the bill got killed in 2007 came down to Republican opposition votes who yielded to anti-immigrant extremists.

The editorial calls McCains mischaracterization of the facts an insult to Latinos: Apparently, the McCain camp believes Latinos are worthy of misinformation and distortion, editors write.

El Diario/La Prensa also points to McCains misleading remarks about his own position: McCain regularly cites his applaudable work in the Senate on immigration. But with McCain the presidential candidate, there is a different positioningone that tries to appeal to Latino veterans and family values, but ultimately allows enforcement-only zealots to dominate the Republican Party.

Sen. Robert Menndez, D-N.J., who worked with Obama for comprehensive immigration reform last year in the Senate, called McCains ads misleading about Obamas record, and McCains own shift to the right on immigration reform.

They dont want us to pay attention to the fact that John McCains message in English is a lot different than his message in Spanish, Sen. Menndez told members of the Hispanic media Wednesday.

John McCain has two faces, added Congressman Xavier Becerra, D-Calif., quoting the new Spanish-language ad released by the Obama campaign.

Federico Pea, former transportation secretary for President Clinton, and national campaign co-chair, called the new Obama Spanish-language ad angrier than previous ads. Its much more forceful and direct, said Pea. If McCain continues misleading ads, we will counterpunch harder. Were going to use the language and approach that is respected in the Latino community.

But critics say Obamas new ad is just as inaccurate as McCains.

Obamas ad attempts to portray McCain as anti-immigrant, linking him to conservative talk-radio host Rush Limbaugh and quoting several anti-immigrant remarks that Limbaugh has made. Critics say it is unfair to link McCain to Limbaugh, and that the quotes by Limbaugh were taken out of context.

U.S. Representative Lincoln Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., called the ad "offensive and dishonest" about McCains record on immigration.

Hessy Fernandez, spokesperson for the McCain campaign, called it quite audacious and desperate for Barack Obama to question John McCains commitment to immigration reform.

The Obama campaign has made an unprecedented $20 million commitment to mobilizing Hispanic voters, including Spanish-language advertising, voter registration, and get-out-the-vote efforts.

There has never been this kind of effort on the part of Democrats or Republicans to reach out to Latinos, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa told members of the Hispanic media this week.

But even as elected officials and Latino media praise both candidates for their investment in the Latino vote, they say it is not enough.

The wooing may feel great for a moment, write editors in El Diario/La Prensa, but how hardliners are commanding an agenda on immigration has real and profound social and economic implications. That McCain has pandered to a segment that rejects any path to legalization raises serious doubts about whether he can really deliver his party.

With both candidates circulating inaccuracies about the others position on immigration reform, Latino journalists wonder if the investment in Spanish-language advertising is really helping to inform Latino voters.

Marrero of La Opinin writes that as a journalist, she finds herself between a rock and a hard place.

If we continue writing about immigration, she writes, we are distracting ourselves from what isnt being talked about in the campaign and where we need to focus our attention.

The ads are currently running in New Mexico, Nevada and Colorado.

McCain's Spanish-language ad

Obama's Spanish-language ad

Related Articles:

McCain Ad Lies About Obama's Record on Immigration Reform

Grassroots Efforts Key to Recruiting Latino Voters in California

Jorge Ramos Interviews John McCain

Maria Elena Salinas Interviews Barack Obama

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