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McCain courts Hispanic voters -- though not in Florida

Criticized by Barack Obama for seeming to abandon his support for citizenship for illegal immigrants, John McCain is out with a new TV ad his campaign is calling "God's Children," touting his remarks at a 2007 presidential debate about the "service and sacrifice" of Hispanics in the Armed Forces.

The English-language spot will air in Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico. Campaign officials wouldn't say why it's not airing in Florida.

But they had Florida Sen. Mel Martinez tell reporters on a McCain campaign conference call that the ad seeks to "set the record straight" on McCain's immigration record. He says McCain "stood tall" during the primary and didn't retreat.

"Senator McCain valiently fought the good fight at the height of the primary at whatever political risk it would bring," Martinez said.

Sharp-eyed viewers will note the footage of McCain's vanquished GOP presidential nomination rivals -- and immigration policy critics -- Tom Tancredo and Duncan Hunter -- watching from the stage as McCain -- assailed by some parts of the GOP for embracing citizenship for illegal immigrants, says, "Let's from time to time remember that these are God's children. They must come into country legally, but they have enriched our culture and our nation as every generation of immigrants before them."

Martinez also echoed Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart's accusation that Barack Obama was "AWOL" on immigration reform -- though he accused Obama of offering a "poison pill" provision that would have doomed the bill (which died anyhow.)

Obama's campaign, though, just provided a link to a Politico report that notes that Martinez in 2007 wrote a letter to Obama to thank him for his "support of the Immigration Reform Bill." The site notes that the letter was sent after Obama's support of the "poison pill" provision.

Here's the full text of the ad:

JOHN MCCAIN: My friends, I want you the next time you're down in Washington, D.C., to go to the Vietnam War Memorial and look at the names engraved in black granite. You'll find a whole lot of Hispanic names.

When you go to Iraq or Afghanistan today, you're going to see a whole lot of people who are of Hispanic background. You're even going to meet some of the few thousand that are still green card holders who are not even citizens of this country, who love this country so much that they're willing to risk their lives in its service in order to accelerate their path to citizenship and enjoy the bountiful, blessed nation.

So let's from time to time remember that these are God's children. They must come into country legally, but they have enriched our culture and our nation as every generation of immigrants before them.

Thank you.

JOHN MCCAIN: I'm John McCain and I approve this message.

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