- The Washington Times - Friday, July 22, 2011

The Democratic National Committee is devoting its first television ad buy of the 2012 presidential race to a Spanish-language commercial, trying to persuade Hispanic voters in seven swing-state markets that President Obama has not failed them economically.

The spot, titled “En Quien Confiar (Who to Trust),” argues that Mr. Obama promoted tax cuts for the middle class while Republicans are interested in “protecting tax cuts for the very rich.”

“We know who to trust, and who we can’t. Because it’s our job to protect our families,” the ad states.

DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Florida Democrat, said the inaugural ad reflects the importance of Hispanic voters to Democrats’ electoral success.

“This ad buy and the fact that it’s the first one of the campaign season … sends a very strong signal of just how high a priority this community is to this administration and this president,” she said. “We know that the Hispanic community has grown across this country and our commitment is to reach voters in every nook and cranny in this country.”

The campaign also reflects a renewed battle with Republicans over the growing Hispanic population. The DNC’s commercial hits back at a Spanish-language ad launched by the Republican National Committee and an independent group with ties to GOP strategist Karl Rove that savages Mr. Obama’s economic record.

The GOP ad blames Mr. Obama for “bigger government, higher taxes and a skyrocketing debt, 2.5 million jobs lost, largest deficit in history, $14.3 trillion debt.” It hammers home the theme, “We Can’t Afford Four More Years Of Barack Obama,” and is airing in Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada.

Unemployment among Hispanics nationally is 11.6 percent, compared with overall unemployment of 9.2 percent.

Mr. Obama can’t afford erosion of the strong support Hispanic voters gave him in 2008. He won 67 percent of the Hispanic vote, helping him to win critical states such as Florida, Pennsylvania, New Mexico, Nevada and Colorado. Republicans are hoping to make inroads with that portion of Mr. Obama’s base; Republican President George W.

Bush in 2004 won Nevada, New Mexico, Colorado and Florida.

“The RNC is ready to take the fight to the states where President Obama’s economic policies are stifling job-creation and putting recovery on hold,” RNC chairman Reince Priebus said in a statement.

American Crossroads, an independent group affiliated with Mr. Rove, said its Spanish-language ad is relatively small part of a $20 million campaign highlighting what it says is Mr. Obama’s failure on the economy, deficits and debt.

The DNC ad is airing in Reno and Las Vegas, Nev.; Tampa, Orlando and Miami, Fla.; Denver, Colo.; Albuquerque, N.M; and Washington, D.C. It does not mention immigration reform, which the Obama administration has not able to move through Congress.

Colorado Democratic Party Chairman Rick Palacio said the president is a “fierce advocate” for Americans of Hispanic descent.

“Hispanic priorities are not Republican priorities,” Mr. Palacio said. “No matter what language they use, Republicans can’t hide their record of wanting to end Medicare to pay for tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires.”

On Tuesday, groups calling themselves collectively “victims of White House immigration policies” will hold a demonstration at Lafayette Square to demand immediate action from President Obama. A statement from the groups identified several policies that Mr. Obama “must deliver on in order to realize the benefits of the immigrant and Latino vote in 2012,” including a moratorium on the deportation of DREAM students and parents of children who are U.S. citizens.

Democratic National Committee spokesman Brad Woodhouse said the RNC ad distorts Mr. Obama’s record and shows that Republicans have no intention of working “in good faith” with the president.

“While President Obama looks to find sensible solutions to get our fiscal house in order, the Republican Party and its candidates for president continue to play politics with our economy and are fighting to protect the same budget-busting tax breaks and loopholes for corporate jet owners, oil companies and hedge fund managers that got us into this current mess,” Mr. Woodhouse said.

Republicans see opportunities in swing states with large Hispanic populations, in part, due to the emergence of prominent Hispanic elected officials in those states. Nevada has a Hispanic Republican governor, Brian Sandoval, and Florida voters last year elected Cuban-American Republican Marco Rubio to the Senate. In New Mexico, Republican Gov. Susanna Martinez is giving the GOP hope that Mr. Obama won’t carry that state.

The Hispanic population in the U.S. has doubled in the past 20 years, with swing states such as Virginia and Florida seeing some of the most significant growth.of its fastest growth.

On Monday, Mr. Obama will address the nation’s largest national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization, the National Council of La Raza, at its annual conference in Washington. The gathering is expected to draw more than 25,000 people.

• Dave Boyer can be reached at dboyer@washingtontimes.com.

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