In the most racially charged national political ad in 30 years, President Donald Trump and the Republican Party accuse Democrats of plotting to help people they depict as Central American invaders overrun the nation with cop killers.
The new web video, tweeted by the President five days before the midterm elections, is the most extreme step yet in the most inflammatory closing argument of any campaign in recent memory.
The Trump campaign ad is the latest example of the President’s willingness to lie and fear-monger in order to tear at racial and societal divides; to embrace demagoguery to bolster his own political power and the cause of the Republican midterm campaign.
The web video — produced for the Trump campaign — features Luis Bracamontes, a Mexican man who had previously been deported but returned to the United States and was convicted in February in the slaying of two California deputies.
“I’m going to kill more cops soon,” a grinning Bracamontes is shown saying in court as captions flash across the screen reading “Democrats let him into our country. Democrats let him stay.”
The ad recalls the notorious “Willie Horton” campaign ad financed by supporters of the George H.W. Bush campaign in the 1988 presidential election. Horton was a convicted murderer who committed rape while furloughed under a program in Massachusetts where Democratic nominee Michael Dukakis was governor.
The ad has since come to be seen as one of the most racially problematic in modern political history since it played into white fear and African-American stereotypes. It was regarded at the time as devastating to the Dukakis campaign.
Trump’s web video, while just as shocking as the Horton spot, carries added weight since, unlike its 1988 predecessor, it bears the official endorsement of the leader of the Republican Party — Trump — and is not an outside effort. Given that Trump distributed it from his Twitter account, It also comes with all the symbolic significance of the presidency itself.
In a first reaction, Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez said the ad was a sign of desperation and suggested that Trump was losing the argument over health care that is at the center of the Democratic campaign.
“This is distracting, divisive Donald at his worst,” Perez said on CNN’s “Cuomo Prime Time.”
“This is fear mongering. … They have to fear monger and his dog whistle of all dog whistles is immigration. This has been Donald Trump’s playbook for so long.”