Este informe no está disponible en español.
Democrats Take No Prisoners In Ads Planned For Orlando
May 4, 2001
Talk of attack ads, already? This independent head is spinning, and I haven't had one sip of tequila, much less a Cuba libre. Picture this: George W. Bush in a Mexican sombrero and a Cuban guayabera shirt, playing a Puerto Rican guiro. Cinco de Mayo is Saturday, and W. plans to make a pitch in Spanish during his weekly radio address to salute his old Texas neighbors to the south. He won't be dressed as an old Speedy Gonzalez cartoon, though he may end up sounding like one.
For a man who stumbles in his native tongue, speaking Spanish is no small task. As W.'s wife, Laura, told me once, "He's not fluent but he's fearless."
The president had better be, because Democrats are taking no prisoners.
They have plenty of ammunition, too. They plan to attack Bush's recent bad calls on the environment, worker safety and tax cuts that do more for the country-club set than the blue-collar crowds.
Maria Cardona, a spokeswoman for the Democratic National Convention, said Democrats are going on a TV ad-buying spree, targeting Hispanic voters in Orlando and several other markets where Latinos could make a big difference in the next election. The ads start today.
Talk of attack ads, already?
This independent head is spinning, and I haven't had one sip of tequila, much less a Cuba libre.
But, then, so are a lot of Democrats still spinning, unable to recover from an election so messed up it had to be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court. They've vowed not to have to sift through any more fallen chads.
The DNC, having seen the census, is counting on Hispanics to elect more Democrats in next year's congressional elections, thereby setting the stage for the big coup of 2004. For starters, Democrats will be airing anti-W. ads in Central Florida, Northern Virginia and the New Jersey-New York television market on Spanish-language networks Telemundo and Univision.
For his part, Bush has done better courting Latin American leaders, such as Mexico President Vicente Fox, than attracting Hispanic Americans, who worry that Republicans care only about the fortunes of the Anglo elites. That may be an unfair rap against W., but perception is the political reality.
Here's the reality: Two-thirds of the nation's Hispanics who voted last year did not pick Bush, though Cuban-Americans are the exception.
The former Texas governor hopes to have an opening with Mexican-Americans, though, because of his old state's strong economic and family ties to Mexico. In his first election, Bush captured almost half the Latino vote in Texas.
Bush always has been an immigration-friendly Republican -- an exception that he hopes to turn into a rule. Just this week, Bush pushed for Congress to extend the deadline for undocumented workers who have sponsors or family who are U.S. citizens, to give them time to apply for legal status without having to leave the country. Bush said that about 200,000 immigrants were eligible but didn't meet the April 30 deadline.
Of course, the politics of immigration doesn't play with Puerto Ricans, who are born American citizens because the island is a U.S. commonwealth.
Nevertheless, Bush hopes to sway Puerto Rican moderates and independent voters living along Central Florida's Interstate 4 corridor, the epicenter of Florida's swing voting.
Right now, though, Vieques consumes Puerto Rican politics, and for good reason. Puerto Ricans want the U.S. Navy to stop bombing exercises on a little island off the coast of Puerto Rico because of safety and health concerns. The Navy, which has been there for decades, wants to delay its departure for three more years.
Votes on the island don't count in the presidential race, but there are 3.5 million-plus more Puerto Ricans on the mainland. Their votes do count.
That may be one reason why Bush's attorney general, John Ashcroft, jumped at the chance to help Rep. Jose Serrano, a New York Democrat, find out why a fellow congressman who was protesting at Vieques was arrested, hassled and held overnight.
At a budget hearing on Capitol Hill Wednesday, Serrano told Ashcroft that Rep. Luis Gutierrez, a Puerto Rican Democrat from Illinois, was kept for 24 hours in handcuffs on the floor of a roofless "holding pen" that smelled of urine.
"I'll be glad to look further into this," Ashcroft said. "It's a matter of importance."
Isn't that the political reality.