In a new Spanish-language ad, John McCain says Barack Obama isn’t on the side of immigrants, blaming Obama “and his congressional allies” for efforts “that made immigration reform fail.”
It’s McCain’s second attempt to try to tie Obama to unpopular congressional Democrats, and this one’s a stretch. The immigration bill didn’t die because of poison pill amendments; it died because it was unworkable from the start — a mishmash of ideas and policies that never quite worked together, that was always skewed too far toward amnesty to truly win much conservative support, and that never quite got the buy-in such a deal needed from both sides.
Remember, this is a bill that was so unpopular it was blocked by a bipartisan majority filibuster — usually the tool of the minority.
The McCain campaign, in its backup literature for the ad, points to “poison pill amendments” that Obama backed. But even there, their read on the situation is off. They argue Obama voted for the amendment to sunset the guest-worker program after five years. That amendment passed 49-48.
But the entire agreement was so fragile that without that amendment, sought by labor unions, even more Democrats would have voted against the final bill. In fact, the amendment was voted on twice — it failed the first time, but in order to keep Democrats from abandoning the bill they negotiated a second vote, which passed.
So it’s arguable that amendment actually kept the bill alive longer than it otherwise would have lasted.
Here’s the English translation of the new ad, provided by the campaign:
ANNCR: Obama and his Congressional allies say they are on the side of immigrants. But are they?
The press reports that their efforts were ‘poison pills’ that made immigration reform fail.
No guest worker program.
No path to citizenship.
No secure borders.
Is that being on our side?
Obama and his Congressional allies ready to block immigration reform, but not ready to lead.
JOHN MCCAIN: I’m John McCain and I approve this message.
— Stephen Dinan, national political correspondent, The Washington Times