A new Donald Trump campaign ad, that claims Democrats are “complicit in every murder committed by illegal aliens,” made its premiere Saturday night on Trump’s campaign website, as well as his YouTube channel. Democrats in Congress and critics on Twitter have wasted no time jumping on the ad, calling it “racist” and “bigoted” and comparing it to the Willie Horton ads that helped George H.W. Bush defeat Michael Dukakis in the 1988 presidential election.
The ad, which highlights violent crimes committed by immigrants and features Democratic politicians such as Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), comes on the heels of the government shutdown that began on Friday night at midnight, when Democrats and Republicans were unable to come to a compromise on issues largely pertaining to immigration, particularly the DACA program that protects roughly 800,000 “dreamers” who were brought to America illegally as children. Both sides have been publically blaming the other with responsibility for the shutdown, and the competing hashtags of #TrumpShutdown and #SchumerShutdown have been trending on Twitter.
On Sunday morning, Democrats began to push back against the charges in the ad and the characterization that they are soft on crime. According to an ABC News article, Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) appeared on This Week with George Stephanopoulos to say that the ad “doesn’t work” in its attempt to tar all immigrants as killers or its claim that the Democrats are their accomplices.
“The American people are not going to accept the premise that immigrants are criminals and that we ought to deport the ‘Dreamers.'”
NJ.com is reporting that New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez, who is one of the leaders in the effort to allow the “dreamers” to remain in America, went even farther in his condemnation of the ad and the Trump administration’s immigration policy, leveling the charge of “racism” against the president that has dogged him since he took office and has been heating up in recent weeks after Trump allegedly referred to Haiti, El Salvador, and African nations as “s**thole countries.”
“Donald Trump responded as he always does when his failures of leadership shine a negative light on him: with more racism, more xenophobia, and more white nationalism.”
According to an article in Raw Story, Joy Reid, in her Sunday MSNBC program, compared the new ad to the Willie Horton ad from the 80s, before showing the two ads side by side to compare their similarity. Willie Horton was a convicted murderer who had been released for a weekend through a Massachusetts prison furlough program, during which he committed armed robbery and rape. George H.W. Bush used Horton during the 1988 presidential campaign to label his opponent, Michael Dukakis, who had been the governor of Massachusetts at the time of Horton’s furlough, as soft on crime. Reid claimed on her program that both ads use “fear of the black man” as a “racist dog whistle” to engage the “hidden phobias of white voters.”
There was also no shortage of critics on Twitter who were anxious to condemn the ad as well.
The White House has tried to distance itself from the ad. According to a report from the Huffington Post, White House spokesman Marc Short appeared on Meet the Press Sunday to claim that the White House had nothing to do with the ad and that it had been produced by an “outside group.” Host Chuck Todd, however, was quick to point out that the “outside group” was none other than Donald Trump’s own campaign.
You can view the ad below.