Thursday, September 18, 2008



September 18th, 2008

Immigration has been absent from the presidential campaign for months, but it came to the front again this week in a controversial television spot for Barack Obama.

The Democratic presidential candidate sought to cast Republican rival John McCain as an anti-Hispanic hard-liner and link him to talk radio host Rush Limbaugh.

The Spanish language TV ad — dubbed “Dos Caras,” or “Two Faces” — aired on Wednesday. It courted Hispanic voters who make up 9 percent of the electorate and who could help swing the outcome in battleground states in the U.S. southwest as well as in Florida on Nov. 4.

The 30-second spot begins with a voice-over attacking the Republicans: “They want us to forget the insults we’ve put up with, the intolerance … they made us feel marginalized in the country that we love so much.” The screen then shows two quotes from widely syndicated radio host Limbaugh, one reads “stupid and unskilled Mexicans,” the other, “You shut your mouth or you get out!”

The paid spot then says: “John McCain and his Republican friends have two faces. One that says lies just to get our vote … and another, even worse, that continues the policies of George Bush, which puts special interests ahead of working families.” It closes with the line “more of the same Republican lies.”

The advertisement is a stretch. McCain was the co-author of a bi-partisan bill that sought a path to citizenship for millions of mostly Hispanic illegal immigrants living in the United States. It was backed by President George W. Bush, but was ultimately killed by Senate Republicans last year.

His support for the measure brought McCain the ire of many immigration hard-liners in his own party, and met with scorn from cigar-chomping Limbaugh, who was outspoken in his opposition to the veteran Arizona senator during the primary election process.The McCain campaign shot back on Thursday with a rebuttal of the television spot. Congressman Lincoln Diaz-Balart, a Florida Republican, calling the immigration ad “offensive and dishonest.”

“Instead of making false ads with baseless attacks, Barack Obama should be apologizing to the Latino community,” he said.