Romney Ad Ties Obama to Castro, Chávez

PHOTO: RomneyPhelan M. Ebenhack/AP Photo
Supporters hold campaign signs written in Spanish as Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, steps off his campaign bus after arriving for the Romney Ryan Victory Rally in Kissimmee, Fla., on Oct. 27.

The Romney campaign is running a Spanish-language ad in Florida directly tying President Barack Obama to left-wing Latin American strongmen like Hugo Chávez and the Castro regime.

The negative ads, first flagged by the Miami Herald, have reportedly been in heavy circulation since Tuesday on Spanish-language programming in Miami, home to a large and politically active Cuban exile community.

In the 30-second spot, a narrator asks "who supports Obama" and then features clips of Chávez, the Venezuelan president, and Raúl Castro's daughter Mariela saying they would vote for Obama. It also mentions an incident where an Environmental Protection Agency staffer inadvertently circulated an email featuring the controversial Cuban revolutionary Ernesto "Che" Guevara. The end of the spot features a clip of Chávez saying that if Obama was from Venezuela, the U.S. president would vote for Chávez.

Unlike other TV advertisements, this spot was not originally circulated to media by the Romney campaign. The ad comes during the final week of the campaign, when candidates typically make their closing pitches to voters.

The Romney campaign has expressed confidence it can make gains among Hispanic voters in Florida, particularly by boosting its support among Cuban voters who largely support Republicans. But Democrats say the ad's claims are a sign that the Republican nominee is getting desperate.

"For a candidate running on 'big' ideas & 'expanding the map' Romney's throwing the kitchen sink in just a few states," tweeted James Gleeson, a spokesman for California Rep. Xavier Becerra, a Democrat.

The Obama campaign said that the president has helped improve the U.S.'s image in Latin America while boosting trade, and accused Romney of elevating Chávez for political gain.

"Mitt Romney continues to play Hugo Chavez's game, giving Chavez the attention he thrives on and that he doesn't deserve," said campaign spokesman Dan Restrepo. "Keeping America safe and advancing U.S. interests requires the kind of leadership President Obama has provided, not Romney's bluster."

While the ad is striking, it's line of argument should not come as a surprise. Romney has publicly accused Obama of going soft on the Chávez and Castro regimes. In July, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) took to Twitter and compared an Obama speech to that of a "left-wing 3rd world leader."

The Obama campaign, however, has also run negative ads in Spanish designed to rile its base. In September, it released a spot criticizing Romney for opposing Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, a Puerto Rican whom the president nominated as the nation's first Latina high court justice.