McCain Goes After the Hispanic Vote

John McCain is giving a speech on the economy (mostly) to the League of United Latin American Citizens Convention in Washington. It’s a good speech; here are McCain’s comments on corporate income taxes and free trade:

Our current business tax rate, the second highest in the world, will postpone our recovery from this downturn and make us increasingly less competitive in the world economy. When a corporation plans to expand and hire more workers, they face a choice between building a new plant here at home or building it in a country where they will pay a third or a half the tax rate they pay in America. Employers can hire more people, or they can pay more taxes. They can rarely do both. We can no longer afford the luxury of nostalgia for past times when American business faced little serious competition in the world. I propose to reduce the business tax rate from 35 percent to 25 percent.

The global economy is here to stay. We cannot build walls to foreign competition, and we shouldn’t want to. When have Americans ever been afraid of competition? America is the biggest exporter, importer, producer, manufacturer, and innovator in the world. That’s why I reject the false virtues of economic isolationism. Any confident, competent country and its government should embrace competition – it makes us stronger – not hide from our competitors and cheat our consumers and workers. We can compete and win, as we always have, or we can be left behind. Lowering barriers to trade creates more and better jobs, and higher wages. It keeps inflation under control. It makes goods more affordable for low and middle income consumers. Ninety-five percent of the world’s consumers live outside the U.S. Our future prosperity depends on opening more of these markets, not closing them.

McCain badly needs to do well with Hispanic voters. I think he has a pretty good chance to do so; the conclusion of today’s speech shows one way in which McCain will be able to connect with many Hispanics:

When I was in prison in Vietnam, I like other of my fellow POWs, was offered early release by my captors. Most of us refused because we were bound to our code of conduct, which said those who had been captured the earliest had to be released the soonest. My friend, Everett Alvarez, a brave American of Mexican descent, had been shot down years before I was, and had suffered for his country much more and much longer than I had. To leave him behind would have shamed us. 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. When you visit Iraq and Afghanistan you will meet some of the thousands of Hispanic-Americans who serve there, and many of those who risk their lives to protect the rest of us do not yet possess the rights and privileges of full citizenship in the country they love so well. To love your country, as I discovered in Vietnam, is to love your countrymen. Those men and women are my brothers and sisters, my fellow Americans, an association that means more to me than any other. As a private citizen or as your President, I will never, never do anything to dishonor our obligations to them and their families or to forget what they and their ancestors have done to make this country the beautiful, bountiful, blessed place we love.

Obama can match McCain on immigration, but he can’t match that appeal to the strong military tradition that many Hispanic voters share.

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