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Murphy speaks Spanish in latest ad, hitting Rubio on immigration


Patrick Murphy is going after Marco Rubio on immigration reform -- with a twist. In his latest TV ad, Murphy speaks directly to viewers in Spanish.

"On immigration, Marco Rubio and I are different," Murphy says in the new 30-spot. "I worked with President Obama on this topic while Sen. Rubio changed position. Now, he opposes immigration reform. Worse, Rubio supports Donald Trump. His plan would deport 800,000 children, destroying families."

Murphy's past Spanish-language political commercials have featured narrators other than himself. That's because he doesn't speak the language. But Rubio does, and that presents a challenge for Murphy, who polls show is still unknown among significant numbers of Hispanic voters, especially Spanish-dominant ones. Some might be willing to vote for him -- outside of Cuban Americans, Florida's Hispanics lean Democratic -- but they don't know who he is, 29 days removed from the election.

Cutting ads in languages in which candidates aren't fluent is always a political risk. Some voters might frown on politicians speaking words they don't understand. But others could also appreciate the effort it takes to reach them in their own language.

Murphy hired Freddy Balsera, an experienced political strategist from Miami, a couple of weeks ago specifically to help him reach Hispanic voters. Balsera advised the Obama campaign in 2008; Obama has been known to cut an ad or two in Spanish himself, though like Murphy he doesn't speak the language.

By using the immigration issue, Murphy gets to introduce himself and attack Rubio at the same time. Rubio was a member of the Gang of Eight that passed an immigration-reform bill in the Senate but not in the House. He has since said a comprehensive approach wouldn't work and favored piecemeal immigration legislation instead.

Rubio's campaign accused Murphy of "lying."

"Murphy's last-ditch efforts to appeal to Hispanics won't confuse the voters who know Marco Rubio's record of service on behalf of the Hispanic community, spokeswoman Olivia Perez-Cubas said.

This post has been updated with the statement from Rubio's campaign.