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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

McCain seeks to reclaim immigration issue



Florida Sen. Mel Martinez this morning helped promote a new TV ad for John McCain, asserting in a call with reporters that the Arizona Republican has been a leader in immigration reform while Barack Obama has been "AWOL" on the issue.

The 1-minute ad, which is in English and running in Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico but not Florida, underscores the increasingly important Hispanic vote. It praises the military service of Hispanics rather than confront the touchy immigration debate.

The McCain campaign would not discuss why it is not running in Florida, but noted past TV ads here and said more are coming.

McCain was certainly a leader in the immigration debate, but as the primary fight intensified he began to emphasize border control over a guest worker program for the estimated 12-million illegal immigrants in the country.

Martinez denied that was a calculation to appease conservatives, arguing (as does McCain) that Americans clearly wanted border security first. "We all were insisting, including Sen. McCain, that we can do it all at once. The fact of the matter is we didn't do it all at once. We failed. ... Until this effort can be put together again, let's have good strong border security."

Shortly after the conference call ended came this attack by the America's Voice group: "For years, Senator McCain was a leader in the Senate on real policy solutions on immigration.  It is disappointing to see that leadership vanish during his campaign for the White House.  The new McCain ad features the disappointing McCain “campaign” plan for immigration: Rhetoric Only.

McCain rightly applauds the patriotism of America’s Latino community in his new ad and on the campaign trail.  But the Latino community and all Americans want more from a President – they want a real solution on immigration.

The McCain run for President has left many who care deeply about immigration solutions disappointed and wondering whether the days of McCain Straight Talk are gone for good.  We hope Senator McCain will use his upcoming appearance at the National Council of La Raza to clarify his immigration policy stance and to reaffirm that his commitment to Latinos extends from glossy rhetoric to policy realities.”

[Last modified: Wednesday, September 15, 2010 10:28am]


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