The Hispanic ad wars: It's Berkley versus Heller en español


The TV ad wars in the close U.S. Senate race reached into the Hispanic community on Wednesday.

Democratic U.S. Rep. Shelley Berkley launched a Spanish-language TV ad telling Latinos that Republican U.S. Sen. Dean Heller wants "to go back to deporting undocumented students."

The charge is based on Heller's vote in 2010 against the DREAM Act, which would provide a path to U.S. citizenship for young immigrants who grew up here after they were brought illegally to the U.S. by their parents. The immigrants would have to attend college or join the U.S. military to qualify.

The Berkley ad also notes that Heller "voted against Pell Grants that make a college education possible for working families," Heller voted for a GOP budget that would have cut Pell grant spending. In contrast, the ad says, Berkley and Democrats fought to increase Pell Grants and keep student loan interest rates down.

Heller, battling back, released his own Spanish-language TV ad. It simply translates one of his new English-language campaign TV spots that criticize the congresswoman on several fronts.

The Heller ad accuses Berkley of taking credit for legislation she didn't introduce, in this case a visa waiver program to encourage more tourism. The commercial also notes that Berkley has used what one fact check group called the "lie of the year" against Heller, accusing him of wanting to end or kill Medicare.

"Taking credit for something you didn't do?" the ad says. "Lie of the year? And now she wants to be our senator. Seriously?"

Heller is battling to win over Latino voters, who could make the difference in the close Senate contest with Hispanics making up 15 percent of the Nevada electorate in the last two elections. And Berkley is working to gain more traction among Hispanics, who tend to favor Democrats in Nevada but aren't as enthusiastic about Berkley as they are about President Barack Obama.

A recent poll by Latino Decisions showed Berkley leading Heller among Hispanics 53 percent to 30 percent -- a 23 point advantage.

That same Latino group found Obama with a 49-point advantage over his GOP challenger Mitt Romney, 69 percent to 20 percent.