Gingrich Pulls Spanish Radio Ad in Florida after Romney, Rubio Complaints

As the presidential primary fast approaches in Florida (Jan. 31), the four remaining candidates are actively courting the state’s large Hispanic population. Newt Gingrich has been one of them. But a new radio ad meant to bolster the new frontrunner’s status backfired on Wednesday, and he’s now pulled it following criticism from several Hispanic-American political leaders in the region.

Despite Gingrich getting the endorsement from the country’s largest Hispanic Republican group, the latest ABC/Univision poll finds that Mitt Romney has a huge lead in support from Hispanic voters in Florida. And as prominent Cuban-American political leaders began to line up behind Romney last week, the Gingrich campaign released a controversial ad on Spanish-speaking radio stations in south Florida alleging that the former Massachusetts governor is “anti-immigrant.”

Shortly after Gingrich’s ad was released, possible running mate and popular Cuban-American Florida Sen. Marco Rubio came out to denounce the attack on Romney, saying that the ad uses language that is “inaccurate, inflammatory, and doesn’t belong in this campaign.”

The Tampa Bay Times has produced a translated transcript of the controversial ad:

“He is the most anti-immigrant candidate.

Mitt Romney may have the fame, but he does not have the substance to be our President.

In Contrast, Newt Gingrich is a candidate that has committed himself to the Hispanic community. A Republican similar to Ronald Reagan, with experience.

Unlike Romney, who uses statements from Castro, Newt Gingrich has fought against the regime with Lincoln and Ileana to approve Helms-Burton; he supported the formation of Radio and TV Marti; and is in favor of holding the Castro brothers accountable for the shooting down of the Brothers to the Rescue airplanes.  

Newt Gingrich has given his word to the Cuban American community in writing and will not let us down. This January 31st vote for Newt Gingrich by punching number 12 in your ballot.”

The Romney campaign immediately rebuked Gingrich’s attack, saying in a statement to The Tampa Bay Times: 

“This ad is false and full of ridiculous claims. Mario Diaz-Balart, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Lincoln Diaz-Balart all stand with Mitt Romney because he has laid out a clear vision for spreading democracy in our hemisphere. By attacking anyone who supports common-sense border security and immigration reforms as ‘anti-immigrant,’ Newt Gingrich is once again reading from Barack Obama’s liberal talking points.”
The Miami Herald now reports that in the wake of heavy criticism from Sen. Rubio and the Romney campaign’s Hispanic leadership team led by former Sen. Mel Martinez, the Gingrich campaign has agreed to pull the radio spot.

“We respect Senator Rubio tremendously and will remove the ad from the rotation. We will replace it with a positive message that will continue to focus on drawing contrast between our clear vision on the issues important to the hispanic community and our opponents lack thereof,” Gingrich’s Florida campaign chairman Jose Mallea told The Herald.

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio (R)

The Herald reports that Gingrich has released a new Spanish-language radio ad attacking Barack Obama’s lack of experience and failure on the economy, mentioning nothing of the former Speaker’s Republican primary opponents.

Sen. Rubio has said he plans to stay neutral in the race.