Mitt Romney’s Florida campaign has launched a renewed assault on President Barack Obama, with a Spanish-language advert linking Obama to Latin American dictators Fidel Castro of Cuba and Hugo Chavez of Venezuela.
The Romney Florida ad, which aired three times in one prime time Spanish-language news program Tuesday and at least four times on the same show Wednesday, also refers to communist revolutionary Che Guevara.
As first reported by The Miami Herald, the 30-second spot includes footage of Chavez saying that he would vote for Obama were he American. This particular clip dates from September 2011 when Chavez also described the standing president as “a good guy.” A second piece of footage features Fidel Castro’s niece, Mariela, who also lends a supportive word to Obama.
The advert’s attempt to connect Obama with the infamous leaders was met with derision by Obama’s campaign team late last week. Dan Restrepo, a national security adviser to the Obama campaign, said:
“Mitt Romney continues to play Hugo Chavez’s game, giving Chavez the attention he thrives on and that he doesn’t deserve. Keeping America safe and advancing US interests require the kind of leadership President Obama has provided, not Romney’s bluster.”
Venezuela has had tense relations with the United States government for years but continues to sell large quantities of oil to the US.
Compared to Chavez, the appearance of Mariela in the Romney Florida ad is a little more tenuous. While she also announced her support for Obama (she has previously praised the president’s stand in support of same-sex marriage rights), Mariela Castro has no official link with the Cuban government. In this case, the Romney campaign team may have felt the “Castro” name carries enough connotations to spook voters.
The Romney Florida ad is an attempt to win over Cuban American voters in Miami. Historically, many such voters have opted for Republican presidential candidates.
Florida remains a keenly contested battleground state with both candidates appearing there regularly in recent weeks (including one visit which saw Obama inadvertently photobombed). The latest polling in the state suggests a tight battle with a CBS News/New York Times/Quinnipiac poll from October 31 showing Obama with a slender 1 percent lead, the president taking 48 percent compared to Romney’s 47 percent. Just 3 percent of voters declared themselves undecided.
The advert is embedded below along with a translation (courtesy of ThinkProgress):
NARRATOR: Who supports Barack Obama?
CHAVEZ: If I were American, I’d vote for Obama.
NARRATOR: Raúl Castro’s daughter, Mariela Castro, would vote for Obama.
CASTRO: I would vote for President Obama.
NARRATOR: And to top it off, Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency sent emails for Hispanic Heritage month with a photo of Che Guevara.
CHAVEZ: If Obama were from Barlovento (a Venezuelan town), he’d vote for Chávez.
ROMNEY: I’m Mitt Romney, and I approve this message.