Aug. 15, 2006, 9:51PM
Local Democrats blast national party panel over campaign spot
Ad mixes Osama bin Laden's image with 2 Hispanics climbing a fence
By ZEKE MINAYA
Copyright 2006 Houston Chronicle
Harris County Democrats denounced their own party Tuesday after joining the national outcry over a political ad they said equates Hispanic immigrants with terrorists like Osama bin Laden.
The 35-second ad is posted on the Web site of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and attempts to show the failings of Republican leadership on the issue of national and international security. The ad mixes images of bin Laden, the 2004 train bombings in Madrid and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad with footage of two people scaling a fence while the screen flash the words "millions more illegal immigrants."
What began as an attempt to wrestle the traditionally Republican-dominated issue of security away during a hotly contested election year, instead risks driving Hispanic voters away from the Democratic Party, said Houston Councilwoman Carol Alvarado.
"You cannot compare people who come over for economic opportunities to people who are coming over to terrorize our country," she said. "They should not be in the same message, same video or even in the same conversation."
Alvarado wrote the committee chair, Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., to urge the removal of the ad and warn that the "Democratic Party can only stand to lose by alienating millions of Latino voters."
Gerry Birnberg, chair of the Harris County Democratic Party, also wrote Schumer and called for an end to donations to the campaign committee. "Give money to the candidates but not the (committee), because they are just wasting it," he said.
Birnberg and Alvarado said they agreed with the majority of the ad and its overall criticism of Republican leadership.
"The (committee) is correct in criticizing the Republicans," Birnberg said, "but (they were) over the top and out of line when they suggested that people coming to this country to work are somehow equivalently evil and dangerous as a madman terrorist."
The ad has produced a rare instance of bipartisan agreement during an election year. Hispanic Republicans have also attacked the ad. The Associated Press reported that Pedro Celis, chairman of the Republican National Hispanic Assembly, said in a statement Tuesday that the DSCC should remove the ad because it vilifies illegal Hispanic immigrants and is ''appalling.''
Calls to Schumer's offices were not immediately returned.
This article is: http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/metropolitan/4119855.html