The Latino community may end up being one of the key demographics in this election; with that in mind, the Republican Party got lucky with its choice of presidential candidate. Out of the whole GOP, John McCain probably had the best chance of keeping Latinos from voting Democratic this year. But as I've said before, the party -- and the fervent appeals it made to nativists in 2006 -- represents a very heavy anchor around McCain's neck.
Barack Obama's campaign is now doing its best to make McCain's burden even heavier with some pretty solid new Spanish-language ads for radio and television. The spots tie McCain to his fellow Republicans, and remind voters of McCain's flip-flop on the immigration compromise he sponsored.
The television ad, which is below, shows viewers an image of Rush Limbaugh and quotes him as saying "Mexicans are stupid and unqualified" and "Shut your mouth or get out."
"They want us to forget the insults we've put up with, the intolerance," the spot's narrator says. "They made us feel marginalized in a country we love so much. 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 failed policies of George Bush that put special interests ahead of working families."
According to the Washington Post's Ed O'Keefe, the radio ad uses the same script, but continues:
Don't forget that John McCain abandoned us rather than confront the leaders of the Republican Party. Many of us were born here, and others came to work and achieve a better life for their families -- not to commit crimes or drain the system like many of John McCain's friends claim. Let's not be fooled by political tricks from John McCain and the Republicans. Vote so they respect us. Vote for a change.
As you might imagine, Limbaugh is not exactly thrilled with his appearance in the ad. He e-mailed the Politico's Jonathan Martin to say, "Obama is now stoking racism in the country. Obama is a disgrace -- he wants the public to think he is Mr. Nice Guy while his thugs are in Alaska looking for dirt on Palin and he runs race-baiting ads and lies about what he has done and what McCain has done."
Limbaugh also maintains that the Obama camp took his remarks out of context. The "Mexicans are stupid and unqualified" line, Limbaugh told Martin, was taken from discussion of NAFTA in the 1990s. He maintains that it was distorted, but says that his staff is still looking up the context. And Martin says that, according to a show transcript given to him by Limbaugh, the "Shut your mouth or get out" quote came from a parody. "The talk show host read a list of stringent rules, adding 'shut your mouth and get out,' before revealing to listeners that the guidelines were those set by the Mexican government for immigrants," Martin reports.
The ads are reportedly running in Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico.