Wednesday, July 02, 2008

McCain in Latin America: does it matter?

John McCain is in Colombia and will go next to Mexico, and the media is trying to figure out what effect the trip will have on his presidential chances. Boz has a variety of links (thus absolving me of having to list them). My own feeling is that the trip won’t matter. Let’s take a look at the various audiences he hopes to reach.

Latinos: this trip is intended to show he cares about Latin America. Latino voters, however, are going to vote on other issues like everyone else, e.g. the economy.

Latinos in Florida: Adam Isacson focuses on this, but I am not convinced. The argument is that people who fled Cuba or Venezuela will be more likely to vote McCain as a result of this trip. Yet we’ve seen that the CANF actually liked Obama’s message more than McCain’s. Going to Colombia and emphasizing his support for Uribe may please some, but won’t change anyone’s mind or make them more likely to vote.

Those who see Obama as naïve in foreign affairs: McCain wants to show how he stands up for “our friends” in the hemisphere. No matter what you think of this argument, with regard to foreign policy most voters care about Iraq, but will pay little attention to how we deal with Uribe.

Those who see opposition to FTAs as bad policy: he wants to emphasize the positive aspects of free trade, both with NAFTA and the proposed Colombia FTA, which then deepens his bona fides with free traders in both parties. This could have an effect with Democrats, but I see it mostly at the margins. The other side of the coin is that it could backfire, since in a weak economy people are more skeptical of free trade.


Anonymous,  3:39 PM  

America better wake up and smell the coffee they have ignored this part of the world long enough and France and other European powers are doing in roads into Latin America big time. Can America afford to loss Latin America to the Europeans or Chinese. This can be devastating economically and militarily for the Untied States in the 21st century. Many Latin American countries have been leaning toward Socialist governments like Venezuela, Ecuador, Chile and Argentina. So this can be a political hot spot for the next president of the United States. Colombia and Mexico has the biggest population in Latin America so it was wise and smart move for McCain to go visit Colombia and Mexico they can influence the Hispanic vote in the United States and get a clear idea of what going on in that part of the world.

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