Despite championing immigration reform in 2007, John McCain is poised to lose the Hispanic vote by a landslide margin that is well below President George W. Bush's 2004 performance.

Despite championing immigration reform in 2007, John McCain is poised to lose the Hispanic vote by a landslide margin that is well below President George W. Bush's 2004 performance.

Polls show Obama winning the broadest support from Latino voters of any Democrat in a decade, while McCain is struggling to reach 30 percent, closer to Senator Bob Dole’s dismal 1996 result than to Bush’s historic 40% four years ago.

McCain seems to have wound up with the worst of both worlds: He appears to be getting no credit from Latino voters for his past support for immigration reform, while carrying the baggage of other Republicans’ hostility to illegal immigration.

And he’s been unable or unwilling to attack Obama—who was once thought to have taken a lethally liberal stance by supporting granting drivers licenses to illegal immigrants—from the right.

As October puts four states with large Hispanic populations – Florida, Colorado, Nevada, and New Mexico – at the center of the presidential contest, what appeared at first to be a possible strength for McCain has emerged as a profound weakness.

“I feel bad for McCain,” said Sam Rodriguez, the president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference and a prominent supporter of George W. Bush in 2004, who is neutral this year. “We find ourselves between the proverbial rock and the hard place. We really like John McCain. We really don’t like the Republican Party.”

Democrats relish McCain’s quandary.

“It’s hurt him in every way,” said Simon Rosenberg, the president of the New Democrat Network, which has focused on bringing Hispanics back to the Democratic Party. “I don’t think it’s assured the right he’s really with them. And for those who are immigration reform advocates, he’s become a betrayer, having been a leader.”

Since America’s economic crisis deepened this fall, immigration has almost entirely vanished from the national conversation. Three debates have passed without a single mention of the issue. And the undertow has pushed Hispanic and anti-immigrant voters alike toward the Democratic Party.

But under the radar, McCain and Obama are slugging it out in a bitter exchange of attack ads on Spanish-language radio and television.

“Obama is trying to do with $20 million what John McCain has done with over 20 years of service,” she said, citing a figure released by the Obama campaign. “We don’t have that kind of money to spend.”

Recent Gallup surveys show McCain with just 26 percent of the Hispanic vote.

Amandi said that some had also falsely assumed that because McCain shared Bush’s moderate position on immigration, he would inherit Bush’s support.

“President Bush making his life and career in Texas grew up with Hispanics, always had Hispanics in his inner circle and in his kitchen cabinet, and had a genuine respect for the culture,” he said. “There was never an emotional connection, there was never a personal connection, between McCain and the Hispanic community.”

Source: Politico

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