Martinez bashes Obama on immigration reform

07/11/08 Mitch E. Perry
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Tomorrow John McCain and Barack Obama will appear in San Diego before the National Council of La Raza, the nation's largest Latino civil rights and advocacy organization.

In anticipation of that event, McCain today released a new ad targeting Hispanics that will air in English, in Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico. Florida Republican Sen. Mel Martinez said, contrary to reports, McCain has not distanced himself from the comprehensive immigration bill Martinez helped craft in the Senate.

McCain has set himself apart from many of his Republican breathren in fighting for comprehensive immigration reform over the years. That’s actually cost him support among some parts of the GOP, who have taken a much harsher attitude toward undocumented immigrants.

Martinez was one Republican who did work closely with McCain on the issue, and the junior senator says presumptive Democratic nominee Barack Obama was no help in trying to get the legislation through the Senate.

But the Obama campaign fired back at Martinez. The campaign sent out a copy of a letter that Martinez wrote to Obama last year after the immigration bill failed in the Senate. A portion of the letter highlighted by the Obama team quoteed Martinez as saying: “While it failed, your backing of this important legislation meant a lot to me personally ... I know that standing firm in the face of extreme pressure has not been easy, and again, I thank you."

When John McCain’s campaign looked all but dead a year ago, political analysts suggested that his support for a humane approach to immigration reform had cost him with the GOP base.

Those same analysts say that dropping that support aided in his comeback earlier this year. Douglas Holtz-Eakin, a top advisor to McCain, said the senator is not contradicting himself.

Recent polls show despite McCain’s support for comprehensive immigration reform, Latinos overall aren’t buying into the Republican candidate. One poll has Obama leading McCain by 30 points among Latinos.

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