Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama took to the airwaves in Spanish on Wednesday, airing a radio ad that emphasizes his life story.
"Some people have power in connections," says the ad, which is running on Spanish-language stations in Nevada, New Mexico, Florida and Colorado. "But most of us have to make our own way through life."
The spot is Obama’s first Spanish-language advertising of the general election. His Republican opponent, John McCain, has already aired a couple of Spanish radio ads in Nevada, as well as an English-language television commercial that extols Hispanics’ military service.
With swelling strings in the background, the narrator of the new radio ad says of Obama, "He grew up without a father, raised by his mother with the support of his grandparents. Obama never forgot his roots."
The ad touts Obama’s work on an Illinois law "that helped reduce the welfare rolls by over 80 percent" and says he "has stood with us for immigration reform."
A spokesman for McCain’s campaign objected to the welfare claim, noting that Obama was one of several members of the Illinois state Senate who co-sponsored legislation that was required to implement federal welfare reform passed by President Clinton and the then-Republican Congress.
"The achievements he touts aren’t even his," Rick Gorka said. "His record of accomplishments during his time in the state legislature and in Congress is very thin."
The two campaigns have assailed each other over immigration reform. McCain says he bravely championed the cause last year and Obama tried to kill the legislation with labor-backed "poison pill" amendments. Obama says he has consistently supported comprehensive reform and accuses McCain, who now says border security must come first, of changing his position.
In a conference call with reporters Wednesday, Obama supporter Rep. Xavier Becerra, D-Calif., said what would resonate with listeners to the new ad was not the policy but the portrait of a figure Hispanics could identify with.
"I think what this ad shows is Barack Obama not only has stood with us, but he is one of us," Becerra said. "His values are our values. His experiences are our experiences."
The commercial that is airing, entitled "Nuestro Propio Camino" ("Our own way"), was altered slightly from a previous version that called Obama the son of an immigrant. The campaign said the change was made because Obama’s father, a Kenyan, never truly immigrated to the United States.