Eye On Boise

TUESDAY, OCT. 12, 2010, 2:53 P.M.

Ad Watch: A look at the claims in new Labrador campaign ad

Here's a look at the claims in GOP congressional hopeful Raul Labrador's new campaign commercial, his first of the campaign, which just began running in the Boise broadcast TV market today, and also is coming out on cable elsewhere. It seeks to cast freshman Democratic Rep. Walt Minnick as a close ally of President Barack Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, though the "blue-dog" Democrat has bucked his party leadership on many of its key initiatives; you can read my full story here at spokesman.com.

CLAIM: "Democrat Walt Minnick isn't telling the truth. He says he's against amnesty but wouldn't send illegals back. Can't have it both ways, Walt."

CONTEXT: Minnick has been sharply critical of Labrador's work as an immigration attorney in two recent campaign commercials. However, Minnick doesn't list an immigration position on his campaign website. A national group that backs reducing immigration, NumbersUSA, recently rated both Minnick and Labrador as "true reformers" on the issue; both said in the group's survey that they oppose offering the estimated 11 million people living illegally in America long-term work permits and/or a path to citizenship.

Labrador's campaign cites comments Minnick made at a Boise Young Professionals event in April of 2009, at which he said he'd want illegal residents who came forward to face a judge, be penalized, and go to "the back of the line for legal immigration. I wouldn't send them home." He called his approach "not politically expedient" but "practical." Phil Hardy, Labrador's campaign spokesman, said, "If they don't have to leave, that's amnesty in our opinion." Minnick's campaign disputed that, saying Minnick always has supported punishment for the crime of illegal immigration.

CLAIM: "Minnick voted with Obama/Pelosi over 70 percent."

CONTEXT: The source cited in the ad, www.opencongress.org (the ad says .com, but that leads to the .org address), a project of the Participatory Politics Foundation, tracks all roll-call votes in Congress. It found that Minnick voted with his party - the Democrats - 74 percent of the time. But many of those were unanimous votes. The same site showed that Minnick voted with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi just 57 percent of the time, but voted with GOP Congressman Mike Simpson of Idaho 77 percent of the time (it also showed Simpson voted with his party, the Republicans, 91 percent of the time), and Minnick voted with House GOP Leader John Boehner 78 percent of the time (Boehner voted with his party, the Republicans, 97 percent of the time).

CLAIM: "Voted for $68 billion in more stimulus, and Minnick won't commit to repealing Obamacare. Bottom line, Minnick's hiding his liberal Obama/Pelosi record."

CONTEXT: Minnick voted against both the economic stimulus bill, HR 1, and the health-care reform bill, HR 3590. He was one of just 11 House Democrats to oppose the House version of the stimulus bill in February of 2009, and one of just seven to oppose the final version. He was one of 34 House Democrats to vote against the health-care reform bill.

The ad cites two other bills to back its stimulus claim, HR 1586, a state-aid bill for schools and Medicaid that was signed into law Aug. 10, and HR 5297, a measure establishing a small-business lending fund. Minnick voted for HR 1586, and he successfully pushed an amendment to HR 5297 to make non-owner occupied commercial real estate loans eligible for the program. Minnick also is a cosponsor of a Republican bill to repeal a section of the health care bill, regarding a record-keeping requirement for small businesses, and has backed repealing other sections as well.

Hardy said, "The use of the word 'stimulus' now is a catch-all, even by the media, for continued efforts to prop up the economy by the president and the Pelosi agenda." He called both the school/Medicaid funding bill and the small-business lending fund bill "all stimulus," and said, "It's all a culture of spending that Raul Labrador does not support at all."

CLAIM: "I'm Raul Labrador, and I approved this message because I'm a conservative Republican who'll stand up to Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi."

CONTEXT: Labrador is a conservative Republican who bucked his own party's governor in the state Legislature on a proposed gas tax increase. Minnick is a conservative "blue-dog" Democrat who has bucked his party's leadership on many of its signature initiatives and favors banning earmarks.




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Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Russell covers Idaho news from the state capitol in Boise and writes the Eye on Boise blog.

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