Vitter immigration ad creates outrage - KSLA News 12 Shreveport, Louisiana News Weather & Sports

Vitter immigration ad creates outrage

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By Jeff Ferrell – bio|email

SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) – Hispanic groups are demanding an apology from U.S. Senator David Vitter of Louisiana.  They also want him to pull his anti-immigration television ad against his opponent, Democratic Congressman Charlie Melancon. 

The Vitter campaign is not pulling back from its television ad.  They insist the facts speak for themselves.  In fact, it's the first thing you see when you go to the Vitter campaign web site.  So, we wanted to give you a closer look, so you can decide for yourself. 

That anti-immigration television commercial begins with the voice of the announcer saying, "Charlie Melancon!  Thanks to him we might as well put out a welcome sign for illegal aliens."  The commercial, at the time, shows men huddled close to the border fence, half bent over and then coming through a hole in the fence.

Melancon's senate campaign called the ad  'distorted,' 'misleading,' and just plain dishonest.  Some Hispanic groups call it blatant racism.  "I think like most politicians you can kind of galvanize a support base around hate, really.  I mean he's demonizing Latinos for his own political gain," said local Hispanic leader Vincent Perez.

His comments echo those of Darlene Kattan, executive director of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Louisiana.  She's the one who has called for an apology and the pulling of the TV ad. 

Perez, for his part, says the commercial feeds into exaggerated stereotypes and an over-simplification of a complicated issue.  "Immigration is a bigger issue than just Mexicans coming across the border anyway.  We'll start there," continued Perez. 

Actually both Vitter and Melancon earned a B-grade from a leading immigration control group known as NUMERSUSA, with Melancon crossing party lines several times.  But you'd never know it from Vitter's commercial. 

Halfway through it the announcer says, "Melancon voted to make it easier for illegals to get tax-payer-funded benefits and actual welfare checks."  Perez responded, "The idea that they're receiving benefits is just crazy." 

So, did Congressman Melancon make those votes or not?  The answer is ‘yes' and ‘no.'  Both parties use procedural votes during the legislative process, before a final vote is conducted.  Often those procedural votes can trap lawmakers into impossible choices and then use them later in political ads. 

While opening his local campaign headquarters in Bossier City Sunday (10/10), Melancon warned against the use of so-called wedge issues, instead of the real goal a campaign:  "Bringing us back and sharing our commonalities rather than dividing us on idiosyncrasies and ideologies." 

What's strange is Vitter's use of such a hard hitting attack ad since every poll shows him with a double digit lead.  Analysts say, you usually see such attacks by the underdog in the race - not the leader.

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