Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, seen here at center, is the topic of a new Obama campaign ad.

Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, seen here at center, is the topic of a new Obama campaign ad. (Photo by D Dipasupil/Getty Images)

The Obama campaign’s “Sonia Sotomayor” anti-Romney ad – effective or over-the-top?

The Obama campaign has released a new Spanish-language ad.  In it, a self-described “borícua” (Puerto Rican) attorney says she is not going to support Mitt Romney, since he said he would have been against the confirmation of  the first Latina (borícua by the way) Supreme Court justice, Sonia Sotomayor.

“He offended me when he stated he would have voted against her nomination,” said attorney Nydia Menéndez.  “And now he wants our vote?” the ad says in Spanish. “Sr. Romney, es tiempo de pagar la cuenta,” (it’s time to pay up).

A GQ journalist wrote a post saying the ad is “over the line and disconcertingly racial in its appeal.” Is it?   We asked a few “borícuas” and Latinos of different political persuasions.

Alfonso Aguilar, a conservative Puerto Rican Republican and the Executive Director of the Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles, called the  ad “offensive, and the most extreme representation of racial identity politics.”  Aguilar adds that “of course” he is proud of Sotomayor as a Puerto Rican judge and scholar, but he says he does not agree with her juridical or constitutional philosophy, and he was opposed to her confirmation.

“This kind of ad might have worked 30 years ago, but to say Latinos can’t support Romney because he would not have supported Sotomayor due to her judicial philosophy is condescending.”

José La Luz, a Democratic Puerto Rican political activist who has been working in the Obama campaign in Florida, completely disagrees with Aguilar.  “The president and speaker of the Puerto Rican senate and assembly, who are both Republican and were delegates at the Republican convention, have a big picture with Justice Sonia Sotomayor in the legislature’s reception hall,” says La Luz.  “The pride Puerto Ricans and Latinos feel for Justice Sotomayor transcends ideologies, and I think a man who wants to be a president would have recognized her contribution,” he says.

La Luz adds, “I think it was an affront for Romney to say he would not have supported Sotomayor’s confirmation.”

Ideological differences aside, are ads like this effective?  Political scientist and NBC Latino contributor Victoria DeFrancesco Soto says that like them or not, they work.

“There’s something called “social group identity,” explains DeFrancesco Soto. “If a voter does not have info on a candidate, a party can ‘give’ them a piece of information, or a link a person can latch onto,” she explains.

“If you are a Republican Latino, you’re not going to cross party lines just to vote for someone who supports Sotomayor, but if you’re on the fence, it might just be that little push,” DeFrancesco Soto explains.

One thing is for sure from now until November 6th.  We are all going to see many more ads.

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