Trump Ad Conflating Caravan Migrants With Convicted Cop-Murderer Condemned As ‘Racist’

A new political ad rolled out by President Donald Trump and the Republican Party appears to conflate a convicted cop killer with migrants traveling in caravans toward the U.S., while accusing Democrats of helping them get into the country. Critics have widely condemned the ad for "fear-mongering" ahead of the midterm elections.

The president tweeted the ad less than a week before Election Day, November 6, in an apparent attempt to energize Republican voters through the issue of immigration. Although Trump previously employed the tactic to rouse his base in 2016, some critics are calling the new spot the most racially charged national political ad to be aired in the past three decades.

The ad points to Luis Bracamontes, a Mexican man convicted in February in the killings of two California deputies, and appears to call his crimes the result of Democrats' position on immigration. Bracamontes returned to the United States after being deported.

"It is outrageous what the Democrats are doing to our country," Trump wrote on Twitter when sharing the ad.

The ad shows Bracamontes vowing to "kill more cops soon" in court. Across the screen run the words, "Democrats let him into our country. Democrats let him stay." Then a montage of the thousands of migrants currently making their way to the U.S. in several caravans flashes across the screen. 

Critics are saying they have not seen a national political ad this racially charged for three decades—not since the notorious "Willie Horton" campaign ad financed by supporters of the George H.W. Bush campaign in the lead-up to the 1988 presidential election.

GettyImages-1055821178 President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at the Hertz Arena to help Republican candidates running in the upcoming election on October 31, 2018 in Estero, Florida. The U.S. leader and Republican Party have launched a new attack ad against the Democrats, which also conflates a convicted cop-killer with caravans of Central American migrants heading towards the U.S. border. Joe Raedle/Getty

That ad used the crimes of Horton, a black convicted murderer who committed rape while furloughed under a program in Massachusetts, to criticize Democratic nominee Michael Dukakis, who was governor of the state at the time. It has long been regarded as one of the most racially driven political ads in modern history, with Republicans being accused of stoking and trying to capitalize on racist fears in the U.S. 

Critics accuse Trump of similar fear-mongering.

Speaking with CNN's Chris Cuomo on Cuomo Prime Time, Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez said the new ad is an example of "distracting, divisive Donald at his worst."

"This is fear-mongering," Perez said, before accusing the Trump administration of trying to draw attention away from its health care policies. 

"They're hemorrhaging...on the health care issue," he said. "Health care is the number one issue in this country... They can't talk about those [issues] because they're on the wrong side."

Stosh Cotler, CEO of Bend the Arc: Jewish Action, said “President Trump’s new racist, false and fearmongering ad represents his full-throated embrace of white nationalism as a closing strategy for the midterm elections.

A recent survey from YouGov/The Economist asked voters what was the most important factor in determining their vote and found that respondents chose health care the most often. 

"His dog whistle of all dog whistles is immigration. This has been Donald Trump's playbook for so long," Perez said, later adding that illegal crossings at the southern border have been "at their lowest levels since the 1970s."

Read more: Trump Administration Told ‘Only Small Percentage’ of Migrant Caravan Will Reach U.S. Border Before Massive Troop Deployment

Jon Cooper, chairman of the Democratic Coalition, echoed those sentiments. "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," Cooper wrote on Twitter.

In the days leading up to the November midterm elections, Trump has ramped up rhetoric around immigration, vowing to send as many as 15,000 troops to the southern border in anticipation of the caravans of migrants heading toward the U.S. 

Despite the president's warning of an "invasion" at the U.S. border, however, the first of the caravans headed toward the U.S., of which there are at least four, still has more than 850 miles to go before it reaches the American border. 

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