On Tuesday, Mitt Romney’s campaign debuted a new ad in Florida that shows Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and Cuban leader Raul Castro’s daughter saying they’d vote for President Obama if they were American citizens. The Spanish-language ad is similar to work done by conservative outlets, like Fox News and TownHall.Com, trying to connect foreign dictators to Obama. Here’s the Miami Herald’s translation of Romney’s ad:
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.
The ad is a hyperbolic play on the right-wing’s baseless paranoia about Obama being “foreign,” a communist and in bed with dictators. And indeed, Chavez and the Castros haven’t exactly said nice things about Obama either. In 2011, Chavez criticized President Obama for being “the president of an empire” and said he little “hope” for the President. For his part, President Obama has called out Venezuela for its repressive policies, saying in December that “we have been deeply concerned to see action taken to restrict the freedom of the press, and to erode the separation of powers that is necessary for democracy to thrive.” Relations between America and Venezuela haven’t changed much since President Obama took office: in 2010 Chavez did not accept the nominated U.S. Ambassador to Venezuela. As a result, the U.S. withdrew a visa for the Venezuelan ambassador. In 2012, the Obama administration expelled another Venezuelan diplomat.
And it’s not just Chavez that’s been critical of the President: Fidel Castro, former leader of Cuba, said about the President’s U.N. speech in 2011, “Who understands the gibberish of the President of the United States speaking before the United Nations?”
The ad’s accusation that “Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency” sent emails with a picture of Che Guevara is also missing a key bit of context. Susie Goldring, an EPA employee, sent the email. She says she “had no idea who the person on the wall in the photo was” and quickly apologized for sending the email. The EPA also clarified that the “email was drafted and sent by an individual employee, and without official clearance.”
The ad might represent the Romney campaign’s last-ditch efforts to increase its support in the Latino community. Thus far, polls have shown a wide gap between the two candidates with 77 percent supporting President Obama and only 23 percent supporting Mitt Romney.
Rosa Hombredela, a Cuban-American, told the Miami Herald that the ad disgusted her because it reminded her of “the same infectious style of politics that put Castro in power has germinated in Miami making it a banana republic. I was born in Cuba, raised in the United States, I’m a woman, a Republican and I voted yesterday for President Barack Obama. Proud to say so.”