U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) listens during a news conference on the terror attack that killed four Americans in Benghazi Feb. 14, 2013 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. 
Photo by Alex Wong/Getty

John McCain gets lost in translation

In recent years, a variety of Republicans have run into trouble trying to take very different messages to English- and Spanish-speaking voters. In his 2012 race in Nevada, for example, Sen. Dean Heller’s (R) website boasted in English about his hardline stances on immigration, while conveniently omitting these details in Spanish.
Three years later, when it came time for Republicans to deliver their response to a State of the Union address, the party said it would have GOP officials deliver the same speech in both languages. That wasn’t true: the Spanish version suggested Republicans support immigration reform, while the English version did not.
Now it’s Sen. John McCain’s (R-Ariz.) turn. The Washington Post reported yesterday:
There’s no doubt that Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) has been a longtime advocate for revamping the nation’s immigration laws and border security system. But his newly-published Spanish-language campaign website selectively highlights just part of his legislative record – while his English-language site emphasizes other parts.
The Spanish language site, for instance, lauds him as a member of the Gang of Eight that sought comprehensive immigration reform, and a supporter of a pathway to citizenship for the children of immigrants who came to the country illegally – a group known as the “Dreamers.” The English-language site makes no mention of either and portrays the senator as a champion of tougher border security.
I’m curious to know if McCain’s campaign aides thought no one would notice.
The Post spoke to a campaign spokesperson who said the different versions of the websites were “never intended to be identical.”
Perhaps not. But it’s nevertheless striking that the incumbent senator, facing a tough re-election fight in an increasingly competitive state, has very different messages for his constituents, depending on which language they speak.
Shouldn’t McCain be equally proud of his record and policy positions, regardless of the audience?