John McCain

Ad Wars: Barack Obama En Español

Barack Obama's latest ad is not only in Spanish, but it has Barack Obama speaking in Spanish through the entire ad - not an easy feat.  He has a good accent, better than George W. Bush's.  And as we saw in the case of then Gov. Bush, the Hispanic community doesn't care so much about a candidate being able to speak perfect Spanish, they care that they try - and I must say, Sen. Obama pulls it off seamlessly here.  By contrast, Sen. McCain hasn't so much as tried to learn the "I'm John McCain and I approve this message" tagline in Spanish.  This ad is part of something historic.  Barack Obama has now spent more than any other presidential candidate in history on Spanish language media.  And he is only the third or fourth candidate that I can count that has cared to speak to this demographic in their language of origin.  As reported in the documentary, "Latinos 08", Jackie Kennedy filmed a message in Spanish on behalf of her husband when he ran for office, George W. Bush spoke some Spanish here and there, and Howard Dean tried his hand at it as well, but the Obama campaign has spent a record amount of resources on a record amount of Spanish language ads.  And it seems to be paying off.  According to the latest polls, Barack Obama now holds a 40-50 point lead among Hispanics.  This is his second Spanish-language address, the first having been an ad in Puerto Rico during the primaries. Here, he is trying to bond with the Hispanic community by speaking of the "American Dream" that motivated so many of them to come to this country, thus trying to add an emotional connection to the support among Hispanics that seems largely driven by issues and party identification. 

And a translation of the ad:
BO: We share a dream,  That through hard work your family can succeed.
That if you're sick, you can have access to medical insurance.
That our children can have a quality education, regardless of whether you are rich or poor.
That is the American Dream.
I ask you for your vote, not just for me and the Democrats, but so that you can keep that dream alive for yourself and for your children.
I'm Barack Obama and I approve this message.

Time Is Running Out for McCain-Palin

In reviewing DemFromCT's am poll roundup there is no evidence that the fundamental dynamic in the election - a convincing win for Obama - is changing in any way.  There is now as much evidence that Obama is opening up his lead as there are signs of gains for McCain. 

$75,000 at Neimans

Okay, Simon, so why does this matter? 

It matters because in this one shopping trip, Sarah Palin spent more on her clothes than an average American family makes in an  entire year. And of course Sarah "Living Large" Palin didn't stop there - she just kept on going and spent another $75,000 at two more stores. All the while, her campaign was attacking Obama for being un-American, a socialist, an enemy of Joe Six Pack. I mean, she couldn't have spent $10,000?  $15,000? That wasn't enough? My God, what do you get for $75,000? I'm not sure I've spent $75,000 on my clothes in all my years put together.   

Somehow to me, this whole episode sums up the terribly disappointing era of late stage conservatism - long on marketing and short on governance. Palin looks good, excites the crowds, puts on a good show - but underneath it all are wacky and uninformed ideas (she still is not convinced global warming is manmade!), a willingness to degrade public discourse and lie lie lie about opponents and when in power, repeatedly abuse the public trust. I've come to believe that whatever its origins, late stage U.S. conservatism has become simply unconcerned about the common good; unwilling and unable to advance the interests of every day people over those with power and privilege; and much more concerned about politics than governing, more concerned about the appearance of governing than governing itself. 

In these last few years, this type of Republican has offered: an economic strategy that has left a typical family with less income while giving enormous tax breaks to the most privileged among us; millions more in bankruptcy, poverty and without health insurance; soldiers dying due to inadequate body armor in Iraq; as much new government debt as we had accrued in all 200 plus years of American history together; people dying in front of our eyes, on live television, in New Orleans while the government sat; a warming planet and nothing done; charging women who had been raped for rape kits; and the most systemic corruption of Congress in the last 100 years of American life.

How could this be?  Could it be that we have leaders, and a political party so unconcerned with the common good?  I have thought a great deal about this over the last few years and have become to believe, at a very basic level, that they just don't care about us. Career politicians all, guided by an anachronistic and bankrupt philosophy, they have come to care only about themselves, their power, their pals, their politics, their privilege, their Party.

Their $75,000 at Neimans.

Is the Race Breaking to Obama?

Diving into the morning news cloud, you can discern an emerging thread threatening to become conventional wisdom - the election appears to be breaking toward Obama now. As we've reported on this blog over the last few days, there is all sorts of evidence coming from the McCain camp that they see the Electoral College slipping away. Early voting numbers show significant advantages for the Democrats, even in vital swing states. After trending toward McCain a bit late last week, the national polls are now trending Obama, and surprisingly the movement is two way - toward Barack and away from McCain. 

Increasingly, we will start to hear quiet talk of realignment, blowout, rout, coattails, new political era. For if the trends continue, we are headed toward a true blowout with the top of the Democratic ticket getting its highest vote share since 1964, Democrats having more ideological control of Washington since the mid 1960s and Democrats having the makings of a new very 21st century majority coalition they could ride for the next 30-40 years of politics. 

Their opposition, the conservatives and Republicans, have become intellectually exhausted, politically discredited and temperamentally reactionary and angry. This is a movement and party that prospered in the 20th century but now seems lost, adrift and resistant to the new politics of the 21st. In these last few weeks in particular, the GOP looks like a party that could be out of power for a very long time. 

For those on the American center-left, these are heady political times. But they are also sober and serious times, as the Democrats begin to confront the enormity of the governing challenges facing the next Congress and President.    

As is custom now, DemFromCT has an excellent analysis on all these new polling trends this morning over at Daily Kos.

Ad Wars: En Español

With only two weeks to go until Election Day, Sen. Barack Obama is clearly not taking the Hispanic vote for granted as he continues flooding the airwaves in Spanish with no less than three new radio and television ads.  The first radio ad, "Ataques" ("Attacks") addresses Sen. McCain's attack tactics, and is airing in NM, CO, NV, PA, IN, WI, OH, VA, NC, Central FL, and South Florida (Miami, West Palm Beach).  It's interesting that there's an entire second version of the ad for Southern Florida, using voices that have more of a Caribbean tint to them, which reflects the origin of most Latinos in that area.  I see this as an indicator of why Obama has been doing so well among Hispanics - he recognizes our differences.

The second ad, also on radio and recorded by Senator Ken Salazar, "CO, Salazar Early Vote" airing in Colorado, is aimed at motivating voters to vote early.  

The third ad, a television spot called "Oportunidad" ("Opportunity") is about access to higher education, airing in NM, NV, CO and FL.  See the tv ad below, along with the English translations of the ads.

Oportunidad (TV Ad Version)

 BO:  I'm Barack Obama and I approve this message.

The cost of a college education is a real worry for many families.
But under the Obama Plan a student can earn the first $4,000 of tuition through community service.
Putting a college education within everyone's reach.
And the Obama Plan offers scholarships to recruit more teachers to make sure our children are ready (smart/prepared).
With Obama and the Democrats ... a new opportunity.

Ataques (Radio Version)

Wow, have you heard the terrible lies that John McCain and the Republicans are saying about Barack Obama?  How horrible.

Well, it doesn't surprise me.  The republicans will say anything to distract the public from the economy.

My neighbor - who has 2 kids - lost her job and her health insurance last week.  And her husband, who works in construction, is about to lose his.  I don't want to hear any more attacks.  I want to know what the candidates will do for us.

Well, that's why Barack Obama is my candidate.  Instead of continuing George Bush's same failed policies - like John McCain wants to do - Barack Obama understands what our community needs from a President. He has specific ideas to help us.

Under Obama, the middle class will receive three times more relief than with McCain.  Obama will cut our taxes!

And what matters to me is that Obama has a plan to give health insurance to all.  My neighbor will be saved!

Barack Obama and the democrats are the change we need.

[BO:]  I´m Barack Obama, candidate for President, and I approve this message.

CO Salazar Early Vote (Radio ad)

In Colorado - the gateway to the West - we know anything is possible if you're willing to do the work. 

This is US Senator Ken Salazar. My parents raised 8 kids on a ranch.  We were poor, with no electricity and no telephone, but all of us became first generation college graduates.
Like my parents, we all will do anything for our families.

And you can do something for your family right now: vote. You don't have to wait until Election Day.  You can vote early, today thru October 31st

With Barack Obama and the Democrats real change is within our grasp ... affordable health care ... investing in jobs here at home, and a college education that's affordable for every family ... whether they be rich or poor.

To find an early voting location near you, go online at

What are you waiting for?  After eight years of George Bush, we can't afford more of the same.

This is Ken Salazar asking you to vote early today for Barack Obama and the Democrats. 

[BO:]  I´m Barack Obama, candidate for President, and I approve this message.

Are The Polls Tightening?

The question on everyone's mind today is - are the polls tightening?  As I suggested the other day in my post, Expect McCain to Gain Ground These Final Weeks, the real question isn't whether the polls are "tightening," but whether the fundamental dynamic in the race - a clear and decisive win by Barack Obama - has begun to change. I guess you can say that John McCain turning an eight-point race into a six-point race - which of course is within margin of error - shows the race is tightening. But it still means a landslide win for Obama. So is this concept of tightening at this stage important, salient? I'm not so sure. 

Surveying all the main sites - Real Clear Politics, fivethirtyeight, - and DemFromCT's always excellent early morning analysis - there is no evidence of sustained movement to McCain, or any major change in the fundamental dynamic in the race. The averages have it six points today 49-43, and if anything, the news from the states just got a whole lot worse for McCain, as his campaign now admits with CO, IA, NM and VA slipping away, that their map is essentially impossible. Obama's number - the important one to watch - is holding steady in most polls at 49-51. As I wrote yesterday, unless that number starts to drop, there is no way McCain can win at this point.  

So the question  isn't "tightening" now; it is whether the map and the polling have changed enough to alter the dynamic in the race. And the answer to that today is clearly "no." 

All this became clear to me when I watched CNN this morning. They claimed the race was tightening by showing one-point movement in polls in Ohio and Missouri, while showing Obama still winning Florida by a wide margin. The anchor's conclusion by looking at these 3 states was "the race was tightening."  But of course by showing Obama winning Florida and with OH and MO within margin of error, what he was really saying - but could not say - was that this data showed Barack winning the election. It will be important to hold analysts and commentators accountable on this point in the final two weeks. 

With the national numbers apparently stabilizing, it will be interesting to see what happens in the states these next two weeks. My sense is that this is where the Obama fundraising advantage will really kick in, and if anything, we could see improvement in the states while the national numbers either stay the same or we see McCain bring his base home and get a slight national uptick at the end.  

Finally, as the CNN piece above suggests, I think the states to watch now are the small and medium sized states. If Obama holds the Kerry/Gore states, he then just needs to win 3 of  5 currently Obama-leaning states - CO, IA, NM, NV, VA - to win. These are now the true battlegrounds and if McCain cannot chip away there, the race will be over long before Election Day.

Weekly Update: The Economy and Immigration Reform

Given the current state of the U.S. economy, it surprises me that not more is said about immigration on all the major news networks. I see a silver lining during this economic crisis for immigration reform, thinking back to a story in the CQ by Karoun Demirjian, "Immigration: The Jobs Factor." While some might feel that opposition to comprehensive immigration reform (CIR) might become more intense during an economic crisis, there is reason to believe that opposition could actually lose momentum. Politically, the economic crisis might actually provide some cover for CIR negotiations, and Members of Congress might have more leeway to discuss the issue thanks to the focus on the economy.

Additionally, immigration has been an issue of top concern among Hispanics. What I hear from many Hispanic voters who call in to Spanish language radio or tv shows and in my community is that they are skeptical as to whether either candidate will deliver on CIR. Unlike McCain, who has abandoned the Hispanic community on immigration, Obama has been able to make it clear to Hispanics that he is committed to passing CIR, which has largely led to his over 30 point lead among this demographic. However, were he to win this election, I think he would just as easily lose this demographic if he did not deliver on this promise. It's also important to remember that members of Congress up for reelection in 2010 have much more to lose by putting off immigration reform. Polling indicates that voters place the blame of the broken immigration system on Congress by an overwhelming majority. Therefore, taking on the issue would change the perception of a do-nothing Congress.

Tthe mantra that emerged out of the failure of last summer's congressional immigration plan - "secure the borders first" - is losing its momentum. With the current economic crisis leading to the number of undocumented immigrants declining, it's becoming clear that the "magnet" of undocumented immigration is being eliminated. Which gives those of us for CIR an opening to discuss, what comes next?

The next President will have to recognize the challenges ahead:

1) Building a large enough coalition in Congress.
Even with the expected Democratic gains in both chambers, he will have to work with Members from the anti-immigrant House Immigration Reform Caucus, which backs enforcement-only, as well as with Members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and the "Blue Dog" Caucus.

2) Growing administrative challenges. As stated by Marshall Fitz, Director of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, "It's not clear how much change Sen. McCain could make within DHS, because certainly he would be in a very politically compromised position, given where his party is on these issues." But that's not to say Sen. Obama will have complete flexibility in regards to halting or limiting enforcement measures.

3) The next White House will inherit a badly overburdened immigration court system.

4) Reform costs money. At a time when federal revenue will be contracting on a significant scale. That makes it, in turn, all the more incumbent on either McCain or Obama to forge a renewed political consensus behind such a plan.

Given the candidates' current proposals on immigration, only Sen. Barack Obama would be able to utilize the economic and policy landscape to build new coalitions in Congress and improve the White House Executive management of immigration policies. Sen.McCain has proven that he is unwilling to act in ways contrary to his party, which remains vocally anti-immigrant. So what could a new president do? - He should be proactive, not reactive on this issue:

1) The slowing economy helps prove that the it's not "enforcement only" that has led to a decrease in illegal immigration, "it's the economy stupid!", thus relieving some pressure from this explosive issue, which allows CIR proponents to argue that now is the time to act to take control of the system - before the situation becomes more critical.

2) Develop an economic narrative, and revive the strong coalition of business, community, religious, and academic groups to advocate in Congress. As noted in the piece, businesses have suffered under the "enforcement only" strategy:

As small-business credit seizes up and unemployment increases, going after businesses providing not playing well among most constituencies, apart from hard-line immigration opponents. Indeed, lobbyists and managers in other potentially vulnerable companies - such as high-tech concerns and seasonal industries - are already contending that they need access to specialized non-U.S. workers now more than ever.

I would add that under the current administration it's the unscrupulous employers who have been provided "amnesty". Passage of CIR under a new administration would call for interior enforcement as well as border enforcement, while at the same time providing adequate protection to workers and families. Not just immigrant workers would benefit from wage and labor safeguards under CIR - all businesses and workers would benefit.

Others argue that the undocumented drive wages down - the next president should make those individuals understand that by bringing the undocumented out of the shadows we will push wages up, and by making sure they become full-fledged members of our society and economy at a time of economic downturn, we will add revenue to our tax base and to our communities. As illegal aliens become documented, they will earn more and spend more.

We found an interesting piece of information during NDN's latest poll on immigration: There is a positive view of immigrants among the general population, which is conducive to passing immigration reform - 68-69 percent of voters in four battleground states believe that illegal immigrants come to this country to "get a job and a better life", as opposed to the 10-12 percent who believe they come to "take advantage" of our public programs, and 60 percent believe that immigrants take "jobs no one else wants" as opposed to "taking American jobs." And yet, when they are asked whether undocumented immigrants help or hurt the economy, 40-47 percent believe they "hurt the economy by driving wages down." In Nevada, where immigrants comprise a significant percentage of major sectors like construction and services, 47 percent of those polled believe they hurt the economy, while 39 believe they help.

However, Hispanics "get" the economic argument. Among Hispanic voters polled in Nevada for example, 64 percent believe illegal immigrants help the economy, while only 22 percent think that they push wages down.

During such a dramatic economic downturn, CIR will help improve the rights and wages of all workers. Legalization of the undocumented will push wages up and to add to our tax base and it will help businesses by providing a more secure labor force and larger consumer base, which provides common ground with which to join different Congressional and other factions on the side of CIR.

3) Look to the future. Immigration reform would require funding; the next President will have to make Congress and the American people understand that this is an investment in the country's future. While the decrease in illegal immigration might make reform seem less urgent, there is an urgency to reform our broken immigration system, including the visa and temporary worker systems, and deal with future flow. The next president needs to make this clear at a time of economic crisis:

"People see those visas, incorrectly, as enabling immigrant workers to compete with American workers. We'd like to see an administration move forward. Congress is always reactive, instead of looking down the pike, and looking at the demographics of our country. When the economy comes back, we're going to need these workers even more."

4) Modify and deal with backlogs and enforcement measures through executive branch appointments and administrative rulings. The next president will have this ability, which is another reason why there is so much at stake for immigration reform in this election.

5) Work with other countries. As stated in the Democratic Party Platform on immigration, it will be necessary for the next president to work with immigrant-sending nations in order to address the conditions that cause immigration in the first place.

In conclusion, immigration Reform can be repackaged as an item in a broader economic agenda that helps relieve some of the downward pressure on U.S. wages and benefits. Today, undocumenteds account for 5% of the total workforce in the United States. Bringing them all the minimum wage, the ability to join a labor union and other protections guaranteed to all American workers will help remove some of the downward pressure on the low end of the income scale, making CIR a strong companion to the Democratic Caucus's successful effort to raise the minimum wage early in the 110th Congress.

Slip Sliding Away

In his daily poll roundup, DemFromCT finds evidence to support the thesis I offered on Friday - that McCain's recent slight uptick in the polls is his reclaiming ground he should have occupied any way and is not fundamentally threatening Obama's substantial lead.

According to DemFromCT's new charts, McCain had a very good week last week with his own partisans. Apparently, the cries of babykiller, vote fraud, terrorist, Jeremiah Wright, Muslim, socialist are having an impact with wavering Republicans, and helping get McCain's numbers up to the mid 40s - a place he should have been a long time ago. But as we discussed last week, only getting the GOP number to the mid 40s leaves the race in landslide territory for Obama, for as DFC's charts also show, there is some sign McCain has begun to slide with all important independents.  

While there was some evidence Obama was weakening a bit late last week, the data over the weekend indicates that any slide has stopped. With 15 days to go, Obama maintains a 5-7 percentage point edge, an overwhelming Electoral College lead, a huge financial advantage and and the best ground operation ever assembled.  I'm not convinced the Powell endorsement yesterday will be that a big a deal in the polls, but it may have done one very important thing - snuffed out a few days of modest McCain momentum.  With 2 weeks to go, this snuffing out of any last possible McCain surge may end up being the final straw that broke the aging elephant's back.  

So as we head to the final two weeks, it will be important not to confuse McCain's wavering GOP base coming home with his making this race competitive. The race may indeed "tighten," but unless Obama's number starts to come down, McCain's gain will only succeed in making the race interesting but not necessarily make it close.  

More Powell

After his Meet the Press Interview this morning, General Powell did an informal presser, where he repeated some of what he said earlier, but also added some additional observations.  I saw it live on CNN and found it very powerful.  You can watch it here on Daily Kos.

Crazy McCain Lady is Back

Earlier this week I wrote about how disturbing it is to see the ignorance and hate speech that is expressed at some of Sen. McCain's rallies. Luckily, we can count on Saturday Night Live to show how extremely ridiculous such ideas are without insulting anyone, yet getting the point across that there is no place for ideas like these in our society.

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