Senator Christopher Dodd speaks very good Spanish and has called on other presidential candidates to participate in a Univision-sponsored debate. Yet, unless I am missing something, his campaign Web site does not have a separate Spanish-language section.
Senator Clinton does not speak Spanish and turned down Univision´s offer but does have information in español on her Web site. The EN ESPAÑOL button is visible in the upper right hand corner of the home page. Once there, you can read about how Senator Clinton has "introducido proyectos legislativos". Yikes, introducir means insert rather than introduce legislation.
Governor Bill Richardson speaks Spanish fluently. Like a pro. But, the home page of the Spanish-language section of his Web site includes several amateurish grammatical errors. The most glaring mistake is "Bill Richardson está corriendo porque el próximo presidente ..." In Spanish, unlike English, you cannot write a candidate is ´running´ for office. Yet, the writer opted for the literal translation of ´running´ as ´corriendo´.
John Edwards´Web site features all of 174 words in Spanish. And the headline "El Mañana Comienza Hoy" strings four of them together in such a way as to defy comprehension. Unless, that is, you speak English and immediately recognize the phrase as another literal translation.
Senator Barack Obama´s campaign put out a press release stating six of its videos now feature Spanish-language subtitles. Well, the system didn´t work very well for me. The subtitles were confusingly out of sync with what was being said in the clip. Difficult to follow. Separately, the first line of text following "Bienvenido a BarackObama.com" is the grammatical train wreck "Esta campaña se trata de construir un tipo diferente de política y eso comienza contigo." That sentence is so poorly written that I don't know how to translate its sheer awfulness.
In sharp contrast, the reggaeton tune available on Amigosdeobama.com may well be the smartest bit of Hispanic marketing to date by any of the campaigns. Catchy, even if you don´t care for the musical genre. However, I don´t understand why the transcription of the lyrics is completely lacking in accents for educacion, nacion and the frightfully misspelled imigracion.
The only other sharp Hispanic marketing effort I´ve come across thus far is from the one Republican candidate with a Spanish-language section on his Web site. Craig Romney, son of Mitt, appears in a brief and simple video clip. Craig speaks in mildly-accented Spanish and describes his father as a man of faith and integrity. It is a straightforward and inviting pitch that might well resonate with socially conservative Hispanics. Oh, and the Web site manages to properly spell "inmigración" even if Romney´s immigration stance is not likely win over many Latino voters.
No candidate or company is obligated to provide information online in Spanish. And the writing does not have to warrant a Nobel Prize for Literature. However, it strikes me as common sense to avoid bush league grammatical mistakes if you are trying to woo Latino voters in Spanish.
This post is based on only a brief review of the Web sites of some but not all of the presidential candidates. I believe a longer and closer examination would reveal plenty more translation gaffes and poor writing.