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Como se dice flip-flop?

May 5, 2008 |  6:24 pm

Mccain John McCain is using Cinco de Mayo, the most American of Mexican holidays, to launch a Spanish-language version of his website. He's also agreed to attend the National Council of La Raza annual conference this summer, which has the usual suspects up in arms.

McCain will have to pull off an interesting balancing act as the general election nears: wooing crucial, increasingly Democratic-leaning Latino voters while roping in Republicans who favor tighter immigration policies. He got a bit of practice doing just that during Republican debates -- goaded by single-issue long-shots Duncan Hunter and Tom Tancredo, not to mention the back-and-forth between Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee over who dared show compassion to immigrants.

But since last summer, when comprehensive immigration reform lost another round in Congress, McCain has moved further away from his original position, as expressed in a bill he co-sponsored with Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.). Now McCain emphasizes a security-first approach and he has said he wouldn't even vote for his original bill if it came up again in Congress (See The Times' McCain endorsement for the editorial board's take on that switch.)

And while it is pretty clear that a good number of Latino voters -- whether newly-registered or not -- don't like tough-on-immigration rhetoric, it's not clear whether having a Spanish-language website gets them all that excited. After all, most second-generation and almost all third-generation Latinos speak English. Symbolism does count for something, but it probably wouldn't compensate for an about-face on comprehensive immigration reform.

*Photo courtesy Bloomberg News.

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