ImmigrationBACK TO THE FACT CENTER
The oldest trick in negative campaigning is to take a snippet of a candidate’s remarks and twist them out of context. Readers may recall the Fact Checker was critical of both the Mitt Romney and Barack Obama campaigns for repeatedly doing that in the 2012 election. (Exhibit A: “You didn’t build that.” Exhibit B: “I like being able to fire people.”)
These attacks can be effective if the apparent gaffe somehow bolsters an underlying (though possibly incorrect) suspicion about the candidate, such as Obama not being supportive of business or Romney being a cold-hearted capitalist. But that doesn’t make such attack-snippets any more accurate.
In the race for Virginia governor, Democrats are trying to capitalize on Republican Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli’s tough line on immigration. Let’s look at what he really said.
The reference to immigration policy appears to be a poor attempt at humor. Certainly Cuccinelli appears to suggest he thinks it is appropriate to break up immigrant families, and one might question why he thinks of immigrants when he is discussing rodent issues. But is he really “comparing immigration policy to exterminating rats,” as the ad claims?
Brian Coy, a spokesman for the Virginia Democrats, defended the ad by noting that both Telemundo and The Huffington Post used the phrase “comparison” when it reported on Cuccinelli’s remarks.
The Huffington Post article had this headline: “Ken Cuccinelli Once Compared Immigration Policy To Pest Control, Exterminating Rats.” But the article doesn’t back up the inflammatory headline. It simply says he made “a comparison” but never states that he said that immigration policy was like exterminating rats.
“He says the pest control policy is worse than our immigration policy, because you can’t break up the families and you can’t even kill them. How else can one read/hear that statement other than a comparison between immigration policy and pest control?” Coy said. “In the full context of his statements, Cuccinelli compares how rat families are treated in D.C. to how immigrant families are treated under current policy (and seems to prefer the policy of breaking families up). That’s the point we convey in the ad.”
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