Hispanic Members of Congress took offense Thursday to a video circulated by House Republicans titled “Do You Feel Safer— containing ominous photos of President Barack Obama meeting with potentially dangerous characters — including several Hispanic Members.
In between the images of terrorists, burning flags and the now-infamous handshake with leftist Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez set to ominous music, Obama is also pictured sitting in a meeting surrounded by members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.
Hispanic Members said the video was offensive.
“Latinos contribute to the progress of this nation, and have a long-standing history of serving of our country,— said Rep. Nydia Velázquez (D-N.Y.), chairwoman of the CHC. “The video posted on Congressman John Boehner’s official website is a completely inappropriate message for the leader of the minority party to send to the American people. It’s disrespectful to the hard-working Latinos across the nation, serving in every sector of our economy and on our military’s front lines. The CHC demands an apology from the Minority Leader for this insensitivity and that the video be removed immediately.—
Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) said, “It is not only inflammatory to the Latino community but the singling out of a groups for that categorization is racist. I hope Mr. Boehner shows better judgment and removes the ad immediately.—
Michael Steel, a spokesman for Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio), rejected complaints that the video may be insulting to Hispanics. “This is beyond silly. The video also includes an image of the president speaking at the House Democratic Retreat in Virginia. Is the Congressional Hispanic Caucus suggesting that every Democrat in the House is connected with terrorists? Of course not. America’s national security is serious. This complaint is not.”
Republicans have made Hispanic outreach a main objective in the 2010 campaign. A list of talking points was included in the last House Republican recess packet to instruct Members on how to master outreach to the Hispanic community.
Boehner unveiled the new YouTube video with Intelligence ranking member Pete Hoekstra (R-Mich.) to criticize Obama’s foreign policy strategy.
“What I’m trying to do here is to push the administration to tell us what is the overarching strategy to take on the terrorists and defeat them and keep America safe,— Boehner told reporters earlier in the day.