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AdWatch: Spanish-language ads are short on facts

Thursday, September 18, 2008

By NEDRA PICKLER, Associated Press Writer

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TITLE: "Dos Caras" and "Which Side Are They On?"

LENGTH: 30 seconds each.

AIRING: On Spanish-language television stations in New Mexico, Arizona and Nevada.

ANALYSIS: Apparently both presidential campaigns feel less constrained by the facts when they're speaking in Spanish.

Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain are making the same claim _ that the other is responsible for the failure of immigration reform. It's not a fair charge on either side, since both of them supported it.

It's all an effort to raise fears about their rival among Hispanic voters, who are expected to play a critical role in the battleground states of Florida, Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada. Obama's campaign has said it will spend $20 million along with the Democratic National Committee to target and mobilize Hispanic voters this fall, while the Republicans aren't revealing their budget.

Hispanics have long supported Democratic candidates, though President Bush started to make inroads, picking up about 40 percent of the Latino vote in 2004. But some Latino advocates argue that Republicans have alienated Hispanics by staking out tough positions against illegal immigration.

Both McCain and Obama support comprehensive plans to overhaul the immigration system, including a path to citizenship for the estimated 12 million immigrants in the U.S. illegally. McCain was the lead Republican sponsor of the bill, and it hurt him among his party's conservatives.

That includes radio host Rush Limbaugh, who regularly criticized McCain for his stance. So for Obama to compare the two on immigration is inaccurate.

McCain also plays loose with the facts when he tries to blame Obama for the collapse of immigration reform. Obama supported the bipartisan effort to reform immigration, and voted for McCain's final proposal.

SCRIPT: English translation of "Dos Caras," or "Two Faces": Obama: "I'm Barack Obama and I approved this message." Announcer: "They want us to forget the insults we've put up with, the intolerance. They made us feel marginalized in a country we love so much. John McCain and his Republican friends have two faces. One tells lies just to get our vote, and the other, even worse, continues the failed policies of George Bush, putting the interests of powerful groups above working families. John McCain, more of the same Republican deceptions."

English translation of "Which Side Are They On?": Announcer: "Obama and his allies in Congress say they're on the side of immigrants. But are they? News reports say their efforts were like 'poison pills' that caused immigration reform to fail. The result: No to the guest worker program, to the road to citizenship, to secure borders. No reforms passed. Is that being on our side? Obama and his allies in Congress: Ready to block immigration reform but not ready to govern." McCain (speaking in English): "I'm John McCain and I approved this message."

KEY IMAGES: The "Two Faces" ad aired by the Obama campaign and the Democratic National Committee shows photos of immigrants as a picture of Limbaugh appears at the bottom of the screen. Limbaugh is quoted in text as saying, "Mexicans stupid and unqualified" and "Shut your mouth or get out!" As the announcer speaks of Republicans with two faces, a Spanish newspaper headline appears: "They caused the failure of immigration reform." Photos of McCain with President Bush appear.

"Which Side Are They On," paid for by McCain's campaign and the Republican National Committee, curiously uses one of the same images that the Obama ad does _ the Spanish newspaper headline that states: "They caused the failure of immigration reform." It also shows scowling pictures of Obama and other Senate Democrats, then cuts to photos of smiling Hispanic families. It shows a gavel being pounded down.

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Analysis by Nedra Pickler.

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On the Net:

McCain ad: http://www.youtube.com/watch?vQyKGHvRL2_U

Obama ad: http://www.youtube.com/watch?vRy9LnAazwMg

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.