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Mitt Romney Airs Anti-Obama Ad Starring Hugo Chavez

by Cara Rinkoff, published
Credit: Orlando Sentinel

Chavez Ad Aimed at Obama

In this final week before the election, Mitt Romney’s campaign has launched a new anti-Obama ad on Spanish language television stations and on its website. The ad targets an important segment of the Florida Hispanic vote – Cubans. The latest Florida International University/Miami Herald/El Nueva Herald poll shows President Obama leading Hispanic voters in Florida by a narrow 51 to 47 percent over Mitt Romney. The same poll found that without Cuban-Americans, Obama wins Hispanic voters 65 to 32 percent.

The ad attempts to link President Obama with Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, Fidel Castro’s niece, and Che Guevara. The ad features Chavez and Mariela Castro saying they would vote for Obama. It also cites an e-mail sent by the Environmental Protection Agency during Hispanic Heritage month, featuring a photo of Che Guevara. The EPA says a staffer sent out the e-mail without getting it approved by a supervisor.

Ana Navarro, who served as the Hispanic Co-Chair for Jon Huntsman’s failed run for the Republican nomination this year, and for John McCain in 2008, tweeted, “Like it or not, that’s relevant to many in S FL.” Florida Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart, who is Cuban-American, voiced his support for the ad during an appearance on a local Spanish-language radio show.

However, the Miami Herald, which was the first media outlet to obtain a copy of the ad, spoke with Latino voters who say the ad is having a negative effect.

The Miami Herald says Cuban-American Rosa Hombredela identifies with the Republican party, but took advantage of early voting, and cast her ballot for President Obama. She told the Herald the ad, “reminded her of the same infectious style politics that put Castro in power.” One of the comments on the Miami Herald website about the ad from someone named “Grillo” says, “Che and Chavez and Obama? In what universe? Che was killed in 1967. Obama was 5 years old and Chavez was 13. Pray tell when and where these three walked together?”

US News and World Report spoke with Julio Varela, who founded the independent Latino website, Latino Rebels. Varela says, “It feels old to me.  It speaks to this diminishing image of the hard line anti-Communist voter. I think second and third generations are saying 'This is over the top.'"

A comment posted about that article from Breck Hollis says, “The point is that the ad is aimed at the Cuban expatriot vote, which is fine... BUT, the once solidly Republican Cuban vote in Florida just isn't what it used to be. The younger Cubans just don't look at it that way. They are, after all, not expatriot Cubans but native born Americans. So the effectiveness of the ad is doubtful.” The Obama campaign has issued a written response to the ad.

Dan Restrepo, a campaign spokesperson says, “Mitt Romney continues to play Hugo Chavez's game, giving Chavez the attention he thrives on and that he doesn't deserve.”

The Huffington Post says it tried to get a response from the Romney campaign about the comments from the Obama campaign, but the campaign didn’t respond to the request. The latest CBS News/New York Times/Quinnipiac University poll from October 31st shows a statistical dead heat between the candidates among all likely voters. The President leads Romney 48 to 47 percent, which is within the margin of error.

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