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Republicans plan anti-Reid ads on Spanish-language radio

ASSOCIATED PRESS | April 13, 2006

LAS VEGAS (AP) - Ads criticizing Sen. Minority Leader Harry Reid for "playing politics" with immigration reform legislation are scheduled to air on Spanish-language radio stations in four Western cities with large Hispanic populations next week.

The ad campaign targeting the Nevada Democrat is funded by the Republican National Committee and will air in Las Vegas, Reno, Tucson and Phoenix, GOP officials said Thursday.

The ads are part of the continued political fallout from the collapse of compromise legislation forged last week by Senate leaders. The deal was scuttled when Sen. Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., rejected a series of Reid's procedural demands for voting on politically charged amendments.

"Harry Reid is not an honest broker in this debate and has proven he will manipulate the issue at any cost," RNC spokesman Danny Diaz said. He would not disclose how much the group spent on the radio campaign.

The 60-second spot says in Spanish that Reid "blocked our leaders from working together" and blames Democrats for legislation that passed the Republican-controlled House that would make illegal immigrants subject to felony charges.

"Reid's Democrat allies voted to treat millions of hardworking immigrants as felons," the ad says, "while President Bush and Republican leaders work for legislation that will protect our borders and honor our immigrants."

The reference is to a House vote on an amendment that would have reduced the proposed penalty to a misdemeanor. Many Democrats, including members of the Hispanic Congressional Caucus, voted against the amendment, arguing they did not support criminal penalties. Nevada Republicans Jon Porter and Jim Gibbons also voted against the amendment, which failed. The felony provision remained in the bill, H.R. 4437, and it passed the House on a largely party line vote.

A similar ad, paid for by the New Mexico Republican party, is to run in Albuquerque and Las Cruces.

"No amount of spin by the Republican leadership can alter the fact that the House bill, including the felony provisions, were authored by Republicans and ultimately passed by Republicans," Reid spokesman Jim Manley said.

Reid also is fielding attacks from local Republicans. In a statement Thursday, the Nevada Republican Hispanic Coalition, a group affiliated with the state and Clark County GOP, called Reid "a rich Anglo" and accused him of "using Latinos as a pawn for political gain."

Pilar Weiss, political director for a Las Vegas union that represents hotel and casino workers, said her group thinks Reid made the right call. And although few of her members, more than half of whom are immigrants, understand exactly what happened in Washington, they're willing to be patient, she said.

"We have a lot of faith in Sen. Reid's judgment," the Culinary Union official said.




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