Egos, Lies and Videotape: Obama reaches out to Latino voters

Tovin Lapan

Last time we looked at John McCain’s foray into Spanish-language advertising, where the free-trade fanatic touted deals with Colombia and Central America as ways to create jobs in South America and at home.

Here is a Spanish-language TV spot by Barack Obama that, like his English ads, leaves you feeling all warm and fuzzy:

“Hope” -- by Obama for America

Obama goes bilingual - from

Ad Transcript: Spanish-speaking narrator: Do you remember the notion that brought your parents here to this country?

Obama - in English with Spanish subtitles: “Hope is what led me here today. With a father from Kenya and a mother from Kansas and a story that can only happen in the United States of America.” Spanish-speaking narrator: This is already your country. Don’t let anything or anyone take that away. Obama - in English with Spanish subtitles: We are truth and hope over fear.

Spanish-speaking narrator: You are not alone – we are millions – common people – cooks, workers, professionals, house wives, that together with Obama we are dedicated to defy the impossible. Win peace, and give our children a more clean and secure world a America more just and united.

Obama - in English with Spanish subtitles: In this election in this moment, let us reach for what we know is possible – a nation healed, a world repaired an America that believes again.

Obama, in Spanish: I am Barack Obama and I approve this message.

This ad follows the dominant Obama advertising pattern. In contrast to McCain, who is more inclined to mention actual proposals or ideas in his TV spots, like the one touting free trade agreements, Obama is selling himself and his ethos more than his policy. In this ad he plays up the immigrant father angle, while in another, English-language, spot dubbed "Country I Love" he plays up his middle-America roots. “I was raised by a single mom and my grandparents -– we didn’t have much money but they taught me values straight from the Kansas heartland where they grew up.”

In “Country I love,” there is no mention of the immigrant father from Kenya. The ad, by using a Spanish narrator who speaks of “we,” supports the notion that Obama, while not Hispanic, should be accepted as one of “us” and empathizes with their history. The key line in this commercial may be, “This is already your country. Don’t let anything or anyone take that away.” The line suggest that unlike Obama others, perhaps and old white balding guy named John McCain, would like to deport Hispanics. In reality both candidates have stated very similar policies toward immigration and border security. Both support a path to legalization for illegal immigrants that includes learning English and paying fines, and both voted for an extra 700 miles of fence along the Mexican border.


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