Local News

Latino Groups Upset Over Campaign Ad

Posted October 14, 2004 4:08 a.m. EDT

— The U.S. Senate race in North Carolina is close and the attack ads are firing in all directions. Some groups say one ad on immigration goes too far.

The Latino advocacy group El Pueblo said a recent attack ad on Senate candidate Erskine Bowles is an attack on the Latino community. The ad claims Bowles worked with Bill Clinton to get $10 billion for immigrants who moved to the United States and received welfare benefits.

"As a Latino advocate, I'm offended, actually, by this ad," said Andrea Bazan Manson, of El Pueblo. "It is using immigration as a divisive issue and I believe that it's very damaging."

Bowles' challenger, Richard Burr, would not comment, but he did not sponsor the ad. The National Republican Senatorial Committee ran the ad, saying the goal is to focus on Bowles' record.

Racially sensitive ads have surfaced in North Carolina politics before. The Jesse Helms campaign ran an ad in 1984 and an ad in 1990 that claimed then-Senate candidate Harvey Gantt supported Massachusetts Sen. Ted Kennedy's racial quota law.

Peace College political science professor David McLennan said there are some similarities between Helms' past ads and the Burr ad.

"Primarily, because of the fear it is trying to evoke in people," he said.

McLennan said those kinds of ads are bad for politics.

"This is the kind of ad we shouldn't see in North Carolina or in the United States. It doesn't promote honest dialogue about the issues," he said.

"The Latino community and the immigrant community is not a transitory thing, but we are part of the state and we are here to stay and we contribute a lot to the state," Bazan Manson said.

The Bowles campaign said the ads are a divide-and-conquer method to campaigning. A representative with the Bowles campaign said the ad distorts his record. Poll numbers in September show the two candidates are neck-and-neck with 11 percent of the voters undecided.