President Trump is under fire from critics who are accusing him of fear mongering and exploiting racial divisions with an anti-immigration attack ad that he pinned to the top of his Twitter page on Wednesday, October 31. Business Insider reports that some have gone so far as to equate the alleged shocking imagery used in the visual to that which was incorporated into the controversial Willie Horton commercial of 1988.
The video kicks off beneath the superimposition of text that reads, “Illegal immigrant, Luis Bracamontes, Killed our people!” It begins with the infamous scene of the self-declared cop killer laughing in the face of the California judge who earlier this year sentenced him to death for the 2014 double-murder of Detective Michael Davis and Deputy Sheriff Danny Oliver in Sacramento. Many will recall Bracamontes – a Mexican national who had repeatedly been deported, yet still managed to be in the country illegally – telling the court that he would kill more agents of law enforcement if he had the chance to.
The clip quotes Bracamontes on that assertion before transitioning to news footage that shows the caravan of undocumented migrants that has been traveling northward from Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador toward the U.S.-Mexico border.
“Democrats let him into our country … Democrats let him stay,” text laid over Bracamontes’ court appearance reads before the screen is taken over by a compilation of Fox News snippets that are seemingly edited to depict the group of families fleeing violence and despair as a deluge of intruders.
“Who else would Democrats let in? […] President Donald J. Trump and the Republicans are making America safe again!” the advertisement’s text then reads.
This may be the most desperate and vile ad since Willie Horton. Trump and Republicans don't want to talk about the fact that they plan to repeal the ACA, gut Social Security, Medicare, & Medicaid, and cut taxes even further for their donors, so they've resorted to fearmongering. https://t.co/xaXNThEOfb— Robert Reich (@RBReich) October 31, 2018
Several officials have come forward to condemn the ad, including Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez, who during an interview with CNN called it a “dog whistle of all dog whistles,” and former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich, who re-posted the tweet with a caption that labeled its release “the most desperate and vile ad since Willie Horton.”
Those who were old enough to track news in politics 30 years ago will remember violent criminal Willie Horton’s image being used in commercials intended to discredit Democratic presidential candidate Michael Dukakis as weak on crime. Dukakis, who was challenging George H.W. Bush for the Oval Office being vacated by Ronald Reagan, happened to be Massachusetts governor when Horton committed his heinous crimes in the Essex County city of Lawrence. Republicans sought to highlight the fact that Horton, who had already been convicted and sentenced to life behind bars for murder, was out on temporary release granted to him thanks to a weekend furlough program the state ran under Dukakis’ watch – when he then beat a man and raped his wife.
The alleged implication made in the ad tweeted out by Trump appears to be that Bracamontes’ return from deportation signified his repeated ability to break the immigration laws in place under the previous administration. That, in effect, opened the door for him to be able to commit crimes on U.S. soil. But, while the message’s intent can be equated to that which was conveyed in a Horton commercial that underscored the convict’s ability to become a repeat offender due to laws in place under a Democrat, this recent ad is unique in that unlike the Horton commercial – which was being pushed by supporters – the president himself is spreading the supposed propaganda this time around.
The 53-second-long production came only hours after President Trump doubled down on plans to send a force of 1,500 troops down to confront the caravan upon its imminent arrival. It is his latest effort to use the U.S.-Mexico border debate as a focal point to drive a red wave to the polls next Tuesday, November 6.