Sharron Angle has made some bold and, too many, outlandish statements throughout her campaign for the U.S. Senate seat in Nevada, but with only a few days left before Election Day and the polls showing her and incumbent Democratic senator Harry Reid in a dead-heat, she seems to be attempting to alienate Hispanics. Although that might be akin to political suicide, especially in a state where Hispanics make up 14 percent of the eligible voters in Nevada, one could argue that that is exactly what Angle is doing through her political ads and a recent ad sponsored by an Hispanic political group with Republican ties. Either that or she doesn’t really care if the Hispanic vote gets alienated…
Liberal pundit Rachel Maddow appeared on “Meet The Press” this weekend and bluntly stated that one of Sharron Angle’s political ads, “Thanks, Pal,” was the “most overtly racist ad of this campaign season.” She said that Angle’s ad depicted “a group of white college students being menaced by some tough-looking Latinos.”
Maddow’s words were nearly the same as those of Fox 5 News in Las Vegas, which described the ad as featuring “a group of white graduates celebrating and posing for pictures, presumably leaving high school for higher education.
“That image is followed by a photo of three scowling Hispanic men, whom the ad suggests are trying to seize preferred college tuition rates from the students. A banner proclaiming the men “illegal aliens” accompanies the photo.”
Fox 5 News pointed out in their report that Sharron Angle’s intentions of portraying Harry Reid as a friend to illegal aliens (one of the ads is entitled “Best Friend”), she also had left herself open to accusations of racism from the Democratic camp and Hispanic groups.
Although the video was subsequently pulled from YouTube after being criticized for its racially charged imagery, there remain at least two others that have racial overtones as well. One shows dark-skinned men scurrying along a fence at night with the words “illegal aliens” written boldly in red along the bottom. That image is followed shortly by a gang of dark-skinned men walking a darkened street as the narrator says that college tuitions are being diverted for illegal immigrants at taxpayer expense.
Angle didn’t help herself any when she was confronted by a group of students at El Rancho High School about the use of Hispanic imagery alongside phrases like “illegal aliens.” She told the students that people were misrepresenting the ads.
“I’m not sure that those are Latinos in that commercial,” she said. “What it is, is a fence and there are people coming across that fence. What we know is that our northern border is where the terrorists came through. That’s the most porous border that we have. We cannot allow terrorists; we cannot allow anyone to come across our border if we don’t know why they’re coming. So we have to secure all of our borders and that’s what that was about, is border security. Not just our southern border, but our coastal border and our northern border.”
Students are heard snickering in a video of the exchange available from the Las Vegas Sun.
But Angle wasn’t finished defending her ad. “So that’s what we want is a secure and sovereign nation and, you know, I don’t know that all of you are Latino. Some of you look a little more Asian to me. I don’t know that. What we know, what we know about ourselves is that we are a melting pot in this country. My grandchildren are evidence of that. I’m evidence of that. I’ve been called the first Asian legislator in our Nevada State Assembly.”
While she was attempting to convince non-voters of her ethnic blindness, Sharron Angle was still reeling from the disclosure that a political ad imploring Hispanics not to vote, one which her campaign had been slow to denounce, had ultimately been found to be connected to Republicans. The ad maintained that the best way for Nevada Hispanics to send a message to Washington that their political wishes had been ignored by the current administration was not to vote in the midterm elections. Hispanic groups nationwide condemned the ad and it was soon removed from running on Univision.
Reid’s camp called Angle’s silence on the matter “reprehensible.” They issued a statement: “The fact that Sharron Angle refused to speak out against these truly abhorrent tactics should tell all Nevadans, and especially the Hispanic voters she’d prefer be silenced, everything they need to know about why she’s unfit to represent our state in the U.S. Senate.”
Angle did make a public statement after the outcry, stating that encouraging voters to not vote was “exactly the wrong thing to do in this election.”
The ads were created by Latinos for Reform, which is headed by Robert de Posada. De Posada was the Republican National Committee’s director of Hispanic affairs from 1989 to 1993. In his defense, de Posada said that the ad didn’t specifically target Democrats.
The Hispanic vote is extremely important to Sen. Reid’s campaign and was credited with swinging conservative Nevada into voting for Barack Obama in 2008. Analysts say Angle has done nearly nothing to court the Hispanic vote. In fact, many have criticized her campaign for race-baiting.
Now, she’s being called out for her ads being “racist.”
But standing idle while others encourage Hispanics not to vote might not prove to be such a sound political maneuver in the end. Not sending a more positive message to the Hispanic community with regard to immigration reform and educational issues might also come back to haunt Sharron Angle on Election Day. She certainly does not seem overly concerned with alienating those of Hispanic descent that are voting citizens, many of whom know, work with, go to school with, or have family members who are currently at odds with the immigration system. And that seeming dismissal could prove detrimental to her campaign, especially considering that the negative and racially flavored ads might have energized a relatively complacent, disillusioned, and/or disinterested bloc of voters into voting for her opponent.