bernie sanders
Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Bernie Sanders greets supporters alongside his wife and long-time campaign manager Jane O'Meara Sanders at a rally in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, United States October 14, 2015. The Sanders campaign is leveraging record-setting donations and a new army of Latino strategists to launch a radio and ground campaign in Nevada. The state is heavy in union and Latino voters, and its early and competitive primary in February is particularly important in the nominating process of both parties. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

Few Latino voters had heard of Bernie Sanders when he launched his campaign in May, and he still lags Hillary Clinton in name recognition and grassroots support among Hispanics. At the first Democratic debate, we wrote about how Clinton’s campaign was already attracting committed Latino volunteers. Now Sanders is trying to exapand his own outreach. On Thursday, the Sanders campaign released its first Spanish-language radio ad in Nevada, airing a 60-second biography voiced by a Mexican baritone on radio stations across the state.

Set to the uplifting chords of a single piano, the ad introduces Sanders as the son of an immigrant who “had no money” and “didn’t speak the language.” Sanders’ father, a Polish Jew, came to the U.S. when he was 17, according to Forward.

Sanders' critics point out that he voted against a 2007 comprehensive immigration reform bill. He caused a stir earlier this year when he told Vox that he opposed “open borders,” suggesting that immigrants can depress wages of native workers in some cases.

As the ad suggests, Sanders is adamant that he sees immigration as a crucial civil rights issue, and that the migrants’ struggle is a personal one for him.

“So, immigration is not just a word for Bernie Sanders,” the narrator continues in Spanish, “It’s part of his life story. His story IS the immigrant story.”

The ad then introduces Bernie Sanders’ campaign pledges, adding a call to action to caucus for him during the crucial February 20th primary. Immigration is the focus of the add, but it’s not the only part of the Sanders team’s pitch.

“As president, Bernie Sanders will make sure families stay together” the narrator says. “Undocumented immigrants have a path to citizenship. He’ll fight for living wages, equal pay and tuition free public colleges.”

The Spanish-language ad serves as a symbol of the campaign itself. Sanders declared his campaign like an immigrant fresh off the boat, starting with little no funding, and little fluency in campaigning in America’s more diverse states (more than 90 percent of the Senator’s constituents in Vermont are white). Now, he’s assimilating.

With millions of campaign contributions raised from his supporters, Sanders has the money to buy ads (his first TV ad in English was launched just a few days ago). With pitches to prominent activists, he has the staffers to literally and figuratively translate his message to minority voters.

Representatives of the Sanders campaign told reporters in a call on Wednesday that they’re investing heavily in the state, hiring dozens of staffers and opening around 10 new field offices in Reno and Las Vegas.

The move follows hiring of prominent Latino activists such as United We Dream founder Cesar Vargas and former director Arturo Carmona.

“We’re taking [Bernie’s] core message to the Latino community,” said Carmona, the campaign’s Latino Outreach director, “in a way that resonates to Latino families, from our economic message to economic inequality to health care and of course immigration are all issues that Latinos are [concerned] about.”

Nevada: Battleground In General Election, War Zone In The GOP And Democratic Primaries

Sanders will swing through the Silver State for a rally Sunday night and presidential forum organized by the Fair Immigration Reform Movement (FIRM) on Monday. Candidates from both parties have been invited by only Sanders and Martin O’Malley have RSVPed. O'Malley had hired some staff in the state as well, and is trying to get more endorsements.

The two candidates might be alone at the forum, but they will have company in the race towards Nevada's February primary. According to Democratic insiders, the Clinton campaign is hiring many new staffers in Nevada.

Republicans are also staking thier bets in Las Vegas and Reno. Marco Rubio's campaign booked $76,935 worth of television spots in October, according to the Las Vegas Review Journal. Jeb Bush and his wife Columba campaigned in Reno on Wednesday. Columba, who is from Mexico, met with Hispanic constituents.

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