- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 24, 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.

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Florida Democrat and DNC chairwoman, said the inaugural ad reflects the importance of Hispanic voters to her party’s 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 by the Republican National Committee and an independent group with ties to Bush-era strategist Karl Rove that savages Mr. Obama’s economic record.

The Republican 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 such critical states with burgeoning Hispanic populations as Florida, Pennsylvania, New Mexico, Nevada and Colorado. In 2004, then-President Bush 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 a relatively small part of a $20 million campaign highlighting what it calls Mr. Obama’s failure on the economy, deficits and debt.

Republicans see opportunities in swing states with large Hispanic populations, in part as a result of the emergence of prominent Republican Hispanic elected officials in those states.

Nevada has a Hispanic governor, Brian Sandoval, and Florida voters last year elected Cuban-American 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 DNC ad is airing in Reno and Las Vegas in Nevada; Tampa, Orlando and Miami in Florida; Denver; Albuquerque, N.M.; and the District of Columbia. 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 students whom the Dream Act would cover if it were enacted and their parents, and parents of children who are U.S. citizens.

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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