By MANU RAJU, Politico
Soccer fans in Nevada watching the World Cup on Univision are suddenly seeing a lot of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who is flooding the Spanish-language station with an ad campaign courting Latinos, who could help save his uphill reelection campaign.
But as he positions himself back home as a friend to Hispanics â€” who could account for 15 percent of the Nevada electorate â€” Reid is running into a different reality on Capitol Hill: Senate Democrats now concede they probably canâ€™t do much about overhauling immigration policy, despite its importance to Latino voters.
Now, they are starting to look at alternatives to address the thorny issue while appeasing Hispanic voters, whom Reid desperately needs to win in Nevada, after a whopping 76 percent of them supported Barack Obama in the 2008 election.
â€œI donâ€™t necessarily think weâ€™re going to have a comprehensive bill this summer,â€ New Jerseyâ€™s . Robert Menendez, chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and the lone Hispanic senator, told POLITICO. â€œHere are the clear facts: If we put a bill on the floor tomorrow, we need Republican votes.â€
But Menendez maintained that Reid stands to gain politically regardless of what happens in the Senate â€” given his GOP opponent Sharron Angleâ€™s hard-line stance on the issue and her support for Arizonaâ€™s tough immigration law, which has put off many Latino voters.
Senate Republicans believe that any move Reid makes on immigration will be dictated more by his home-state politics and less about Senate reality.
“They had 60 votes here; they could have taken care of it,â€ said Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch. â€œNow itâ€™s being used as a political ploy to get their base out.â€
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who abandoned bipartisan efforts to pass a comprehensive bill this year, said talk of advancing one now had â€œa lotâ€ to do with Reidâ€™s reelection.
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