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McCain Woos Hispanics in LULAC Speech

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By Michael D. Shear
Chasing after an important constituency for the fall while he balances a politically tricky issue, Sen. John McCain promised a group of Hispanics in Washington that he would pursue comprehensive immigration reform "practically and humanely" while praising the contributions of "those who came here, as my distant ancestors did, to build a better, safer life for their families."

McCain's efforts to woo Spanish speakers is well under way. He has released Spanish language television ads. He spoke to the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials last month. And he is scheduled to appear next week at a La Raza gathering in San Diego.

Volunteers at the Washington Hilton today carried signs that said "Estamos Unidos McCain" -- we are united for McCain.

In Washington today for the League of United Latin American Citizens convention, he heaped praise on Hispanics, noting that his state of Arizona "owes a great deal to the many Arizonans of Hispanic descent who live there." And he recalled the contributions of Hispanic veterans, saying that "when you take the solemn stroll along that wall of black granite on the national Mall, it is hard not to notice the many names such as Rodriguez, Hernandez, and Lopez that so sadly adorn it."

But his courtship of the community is a delicate one that poses risks for McCain, especially among his conservative base. Many Republicans continue to be angry about what they see as McCain's pursuit of amnesty for illegal immigrants, an issue that nearly cost him the nomination last year.

Since the collapse of immigration legislation that he championed, McCain has shifted his emphasis, talking more often about the need to secure the nation's border before turning to a guest worker program that could allow illegal immigrants to stay in the country legally. He
says he would turn to the nation's border governors to certify the crossing is secure.

He repeated that pledge in his speech Tuesday, but quickly promised to go further, eventually.

"We must not make the mistake of thinking that our responsibility to meet this challenge will end with that accomplishment," he said. "We have economic and humanitarian responsibilities as well, and they require no less dedication from us in meeting them."

McCain also used the forum to continue to express his empathy for an economy that has soured, and to insist that his prescription for recovery is better than the one being offered by Democratic Sen. Barack Obama.

"It is a terrible mistake to raise taxes during an economic downturn. Increasing the tax burden on Americans impedes job growth, discourages innovation and makes us less competitive," he said. "When you raise taxes in a bad economy you eliminate jobs. I'm not going to
let that happen. I will keep current rates low and cut them where I can."

The focus for the day remained on jobs, with McCain stressing that his plans for health care, energy independence and the environment would not stifle job growth.

The Republican senator did not repeat the promise his campaign made Monday that he would have the federal budget balanced by the end of a first term in office -- a feat that many economists said would be exceedingly difficult given the senator's stated spending and tax cut
proposals.

By Web Politics Editor  |  July 8, 2008; 1:08 PM ET
Categories:  John McCain  
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