In an interview with Jorge Ramos on Univision’s “Al Punto,” Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) blamed Spanish-language attack ads, which he claims portrayed him as anti-immigrant, anti-Hispanic, and anti-immigration reform, for costing him the Latino vote in last year’s elections:
RAMOS: Are Republicans concerned about upsetting their base if they vote to legalize undocumented immigrants?
MCCAIN: I don’t know…uh…I can’t speak for all Republicans…I know I was out there twice — on the floor of the Senate with Senator Kennedy — trying to pass comprehensive immigration with a path to legalization on it and I was attacked during the campaign for being anti-immigrant. Life isn’t fair.
RAMOS: Talking specifically about that — the last time we spoke was during the campaign. And you know and I know that you only got 31% of the Hispanic vote. Are you disappointed? What went wrong?
MCCAIN: Obviously I’m very disappointed. Millions of dollars of attack ads on your network and across the country in Spanish-language stations attacked me for being anti-immigrant, anti-Hispanic, and anti-immigration reform. They succeeded.
In 2006, McCain voted for Sen. James Inhofe’s (R-OK) amendment to “declare English as the national language.” It seems McCain has consistently failed to note that many Latinos have mastered both English and Spanish. The 69% of Latino voters who voted against McCain probably didn’t have to look much farther than his own conflicting statements on immigration policy. It’s true that McCain fought and lost the battle for comprehensive immigration reform in 2007. Yet, less than one year later he stated that he wouldn’t support his own bill during a Republican presidential primary debate. Later on, his party adopted an “uncompromising anti-immigrant agenda” as part of the GOP platform.
Meanwhile, McCain sang a much different tune in the ethnic media. He launched a Spanish-language ad campaign blaming Obama and Senate Democrats for intentionally killing immigration reform with what he called “poison pill amendments.” Maybe McCain forgot that the same day the bill died, he came out blaming opposition within his own party, saying “A lot of the Republican base was passionate about the issue, and they made their influence felt.” The Obama camp responded by airing its “dos caras” ad, which portrayed McCain as two-faced on immigration. In another campaign ad, McCain translated “pro-innovation immigration policies” in English to “immigration policy innovation” in Spanish captions, essentially conveying two different messages to anyone who understands both.
When Ramos asked McCain if he thinks immigration reform is possible this year, McCain responded that he “didn’t know,” but that he will not support any legislation that does not contain a legal guest worker program.