McCain courts Hispanic voters with a television advertisement honoring Hispanic members of the armed services:
Latinos constituted about 8% of the 2004 electorate and voted for Democrat John Kerry 53% to 44% for President Bush. But immigration activists and Democrats say that since then, hard-line Republican bluster on illegal immigration, a top issue among Hispanic voters, has galvanized the demographic segment and driven them away from the Republican party.
In 2006 and 2007, McCain was a driving force behind unsuccessful legislative efforts to reform the US immigration system and create a path to legal status for the about 12m illegal immigrants already in the country. McCain is a senator from Arizona, a border state with a large Hispanic population.
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The advertisement features a short speech McCain made at a New Hampshire primary debate in June 2007. McCain, who despite his rightward maneuvering was among the more moderate Republican candidates on immigration, exhorts the audience to visit the black granite Vietnam war memorial in Washington, D.C., and note the Hispanic names chiseled into it.
He also praises military service members in Iraq and Afghanistan "who are of Hispanic background," even those "who are not even citizens of this country."
McCain has a lot of ground to make up in the campaign for Hispanic votes. A recent Gallup poll found Hispanic registered voters preferring Democrat Obama 59% to 29% for McCain.
I give McCain credit for his efforts to take on immigration reform. I'm on record as willing to give the Senate's great immigration compromise a chance. Too bad the Democrats killed the deal because New York Senator Charles (Chuck) Schumer reportedly made the case that the failure to get a bill would be good for the Democrats.
McCain doesn't get the credit he deserves for his bipartisan efforts to solve the flood of illegal immigrants. As he said in his speech to the Conservative Political Action Conference on February 7, 2008:
On the issue of illegal immigration, a position which provoked the outspoken opposition of many conservatives, I stood my ground aware that my position would imperil my campaign. I respect your opposition for I know that the vast majority of critics to the bill based their opposition in a principled defense of the rule of law. And while I and other Republican supporters of the bill were genuine in our intention to restore control of our borders, we failed, for various and understandable reasons, to convince Americans that we were. I accept that, and have pledged that it would be among my highest priorities to secure our borders first, and only after we achieved widespread consensus that our borders are secure, would we address other aspects of the problem in a way that defends the rule of law and does not encourage another wave of illegal immigration.Even if you disagree with McCain's approach, he deserves credit for trying to solve such an important issue.