Let the record show the 2012 election campaign gets started this week.
The opening shot is the announcement of two critical ad buys, one by the Democratic National Committee and the other by the Republican National Committee–both in Spanish.
These buys follow a major Spanish-language campaign that began two weeks ago with $20 million in funding from Karl Rove’s American Crossroads group. The DNC and RNC have not revealed how much they are spending on their ads, although the DNC claims its buy is many times larger than the RNC’s.
The DNC ad, titled “En Quien Confiar,” is a direct response to the spots being run by American Crossroads. It begins with a line cautioning Hispanics not to believe “ads that pretend to care about our children.”
The voiceover translates in part as: “It’s the Republicans who would end the Medicare guarantee while protecting tax cuts for the very rich. It was the president who extended health insurance for our children, financial aid for students and tax cuts for the middle class.”
The kicker: “We know who to trust, and who we can’t. Because it’s our job to protect our families.”
This early battle over the Hispanic vote reveals strategic thinking about how tight the presidential contest looks to be in November 2012. Another telltale sign is that last week, in the middle of the intense debt-ceiling debate, President Obama kept his promise to speak at the annual convention of the Hispanic leadership group La Raza.
The competing RNC ad aimed at Hispanic voters is titled “Change Directions.” In the ad, a little Hispanic girl, sitting on a couch looking worried, is watching the news. A voice, purportedly commenting in 2017 on the end of Obama’s second term, says: “Eight years ago we were promised hope–today many believe our American dream has been lost.”
The big question now is whether creeping frustration and pessimism about the economy is enough to push Hispanic voters out of the Obama camp and into the arms of the GOP candidate next year.
Frank Sharry, executive director of America’s Voice, insists that is not likely.
“The Republican Party’s outreach plan to [Hispanic] voters amounts to a wish, a prayer and a gamble. Instead of adapting their actual position on immigration reform, the party is hoping that running a few more [Hispanic] candidates, placing a few more Spanish-language ads on television and focusing only on the poor economy will be enough to overcome their continued embrace of a mass-deportation immigration platform,” he said.