San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

¿Qué? U.S. President Barack Obama speaks Spanish in new campaign ad

To try to rally Latino voters in the United States, President Barack Obama is speaking Spanish in a new ad. The ad has Obama speaking directly to the camera talking to Latinos that would benefit from the stalled DREAM Act. The act would grant legal status to several million undocumented youth in “good moral standing,” and is widely popular in the Latino communities.

Republican candidate Mitt Romney, who has pledged to veto the DREAM Act if elected, also released his own campaign ad directed toward the Latino community Tuesday. His ad emphasizes improving the economy and helping Latino businesses grow.

In Obama’s ad, the president says in Spanish:

“In the young people known as DREAMers, I see the same qualities Michelle and I try to instill in our daughters. They respect their parents. They study for a better life. And they want to contribute to the only country they know and love. As a father, they inspire me. And as president, their spirit reminds me that no obstacle is too great, no road too long.”

Obama enjoys wide support from Latinos in the U.S., and polls have support from the community hovering around 70 percent. However, enthusiasm for Obama’s re-election remains lacking. The ad will air in the swing states of Florida, Colorado, Virginia, Nevada and Ohio. The five states boast a large Latino community.

The ad plays up the Obama administration’s decision in June to stop deporting most undocumented young people.

Romney speaks English in his ad, and Spanish subtitles translate the message.

“Our economic recovery needs the success of the Hispanic community,” Romney said in the ad. “But President Obama’s misguided policies are dragging down businesses. You deserve better. We must end unnecessary regulations and cut taxes. I’ll work to help you create jobs because when Hispanic businesses grow, America grows.”

He finishes the ad by saying in Spanish, “Soy Mitt Romney. Y apruebo esto mensaje”. (I am Mitt Romney, and I approve this message.) 

Obama is not fluent in Spanish, and is best-known for speaking some elementary-level Bahasa, an Indonesian-language. The president went to school in Indonesia until he was 10. This is not the first time Obama has spoken Spanish in an ad. For the democratic primaries in 2008, Obama posted a message in Spanish on YouTube for Puerto Rican voters.

Romney has a Spanish-speaking son who has appeared in ads with the GOP presidential candidate. However, Romney speaks French. In a strange attack ad during the Republican primaries this year, candidate Newt Gingrich mocked Romney for knowing French. Romney learned the language after doing his Mormon mission in France in the 1960s.

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