US ad urges Latinos not to vote
Las Vegas - A Republican campaign ad urging Latinos not to vote was pulled from the airwaves on Tuesday amid an outcry from Democrats that it was a dirty trick against Senate majority leader Harry Reid in his hotly contested race.
Reid sought to link the ad to Republican opponent Sharron Angle as the ad drew a harsh rebuke from US President Barack Obama, Hispanic leaders and candidates from both parties in Nevada.
Angle's opponents also pounced on the Tea Party favourite for her comments to Hispanic high school students that "some of you look a little more Asian to me".
"Listen to her latest, running ads on Hispanic television telling people not to vote," Reid said. "She is trying to keep people from voting."
Reid has fiercely courted the Hispanic vote in the contest against Angle, who supports strict immigration policies. With the race in a dead heat, a dip in turnout among Hispanics would likely land Angle in the US Senate.
The Republican group Latinos for Reform had planned to eventually run the commercials in Nevada, Florida, California, Texas and Colorado through the November 2 election.
"Don't vote this November. This is the only way to send them a clear message," the ad's narrator announces in Spanish. "You can no longer take us for granted."
Univision told The Associated Press on Tuesday that the spot was pulled from one of its Spanish-language radio stations in Las Vegas shortly after the commercial hit the air.
Univision said it will also not run a companion ad on its Spanish-language TV broadcasting network and will continue to encourage Hispanics to vote.
Telemundo, the other major US Spanish-language network, also said it would not broadcast the TV spots if approached.
Obama slammed the campaign during a roundtable with reporters from Spanish-language outlets.
"I think it is terrible," he said. "It is a cynical political ploy to try to drive Latino votes to benefit a Republican candidate in Nevada who would never vote for immigration reform."
Robert de Posada, the founder of Latinos for Reform, said he is trying to determine whether he can legally challenge Univision, which approved the commercials on Friday.
"It is a very sad moment where you cannot have discourse in the Spanish market," he said.
De Posada said Democrats were elected on empty promises of immigration reform in 2008. He also attacked Republican efforts to criminalise illegal immigrants or deny illegal immigrants' children citizenship rights, policies supported by Angle, whom he called "irresponsible".
"I would rather not vote for anyone than be forced to vote for the lesser of two evils," he said.
De Posada is the former director of Hispanic affairs for the Republican National Committee. He also worked on trying to privatise the federal Social Security pension programme under former President George W. Bush, who supported an immigration overhaul that would have allowed illegal immigrants to apply for legal status.
Angle's campaign distanced itself from the ad, but stopped short of criticising it.
"We encourage all Nevadans to vote and they should vote for Sharron Angle because Harry Reid is only out for himself and his wallet," said spokesperson Jarrod Agen.
Hispanics make up more than 25% of Nevada's population and Democrats have directed intense voter outreach efforts toward the community in recent years.