Republican Tim Escobar has an uphill climb in his battle to represent California's 39th Congressional District. The seat was drawn up by the state's Democratic legislature to be a Democratic seat, and the Democratic nominee, lawyer Linda Sanchez, is forecast to have an easy victory.
But Escobar has taken a bold, new step in his campaign: He assigned President Bush a new immigration policy. In a Spanish-language television ad for Escobar, the announcer declares: "Tim Escobar supports the proposal from President Bush to grant legal status to 3.5 million immigrants." The screen flashes a message that reads: "Legalize Immigrants."
This comes as a surprise to the White House, which is open to a temporary worker program that includes a mechanism to allow some workers to earn legal status -- but nothing of the sort the ad claimed. "The president has said he does not support a broad amnesty program," White House spokesman Scott McClellan said.
A spokesman for the Escobar campaign said the statement was based on a sentence from the Los Angeles Times in August referring to "Bush's proposal to grant legal status to 3.5 million undocumented Mexican immigrants." The proposal, the Escobar spokesman said, is "still sitting on the table."
This, too, was news to the White House. "It sounds like he's taken it to another step," a senior Bush aide said.
Following Family Footsteps
If there were ever a congressional candidate to rely on personal biography, it would be Katrina Swett.
The 47-year-old Democrat running for New Hampshire's 2nd District regularly starts her stump speeches with the story of how her parents escaped the Holocaust and came to the United States to pursue the American dream.
Then it is on to her political experience. When she was 25, she ran the campaign of her father, Rep. Tom Lantos (D-Calif.). She did the same for her husband, former representative Dick Swett (D-N.H.), in 1990. The lawyer who entered Yale University at 16 also worked for the Senate Judiciary Committee and as a New Hampshire political talk show host.
And raising seven children has enabled Swett to talk the working mother talk of homework and car pools.
"These are all primary focuses of hers," said Alex Zaroulis, campaign spokeswoman. "She relates it back to her parents' experience and the fact that America received them with open arms and gave them opportunities."
Swett's win could make the first father-daughter pair serving in Congress at the same time. Although she has raised nearly twice the funds of her opponent, Rep. Charles Bass (R-N.H.), a recent independent poll shows Bass with a lead of 54 percent to 33 percent, with 13 percent of voters undecided.
Staff writer Christine Haughney contributed to this report.