In today's globalized context, U.S. presidential campaigns are no longer limited to U.S. territory. They are now international affairs. Presumably, McCain thinks he can pick up Latino votes in the U.S. by visiting Mexico. The candidate may be wrong about that, but that's what he thought.
One of McCain's activities here was a visit to the Virgin of Guadalupe Basilica in Mexico City. (I've written an article on "The Virgin of Guadalupe and the National Question," located here.)
Reportedly, the Basilica visit was at the behest of former Mexican cabinet member and current McCain adviser Juan Hernandez.
In Mexico the Virgin of Guadalupe is considered off limits to politicians, Vicente Fox took a lot of heat once for waving a Guadalupe banner.
McCain, though, is presumably in Mexico to win votes of Mexican-Americans in the United States. It's still not clear though that the Basilica visit will gain many votes .
At another venue in Mexico , McCain spoke about immigration and actually said something that sounded halfway sensible.
I believe we must have comprehensive immigration reform. The American people want our borders secured first. That will require some walls. It will require virtual fences. It will require high-technology equipment. We must secure our borders, and then we will address the issue of comprehensive immigration reform.Of course, "comprehensive immigration reform" is a code word for amnesty. McCain is saying the border must be secured before enacting an amnesty. I oppose an amnesty no matter what the border is like, and I still don't trust McCain. However, I am impressed that he actually defended walls and border security in Mexico, that took some courage.
Even an editorial in Mexico's El Universal gave McCain good marks, and said that McCain exhibits "a better understanding of this country [Mexico] than his opponent [Obama]."
It was still not good enough for some Hispanic leaders in Chicago who were interviewed by El Porvenir:
Leaders of the Mexican immigrant community considered offensive the pronouncement of the Republican candidate to the Presidency, John McCain, in favor of the (border) wall before immigration reform. Interviewed separately, the leaders said that his (McCain) visit to Mexico was a mockery against Mexicans, their symbols and aspirations with respect to the relationship with their northern neighbor.You just can't make these guys happy!
The political director of the Coalition for the Defense of Immigrants and Refugees, Artemio Arreola, exposed that the Republican politician only intended to exploit an image of identification with Mexico to attract the Latin American vote. "But in the end, the message was that he will continue the same politics of president George W. Bush, with the message regarding the immigration issue: "I will hit you first and and comfort you later", he added.Bush has pandered to Mexicans and Mexican-Americans throughout his presidency, and this is the thanks he gets ?
The leader of the Front for the Defense of the Immigrant, Carlos Arango, thought that McCain showed a lack of respect and an arrogance with his words, besides he made his visit to the Basilica of Guadalupe into a mockery against the Mexicans. "It was an insult, a slap in the face to the Mexicans to say that if he is president he will build a wall before resolving the situation of millions of undocumented workers", he declared.So after all McCain has done to pander to this crowd, this is the thanks he gets ? Why should the GOP even try to please these people ?