The president has spent the final weeks ahead of the midterm election attacking the thousands of migrants from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador heading for the U.S. border, a group he has dubbed a “caravan” of invading hordes.
Last week, Trump amplified his anti-immigrant statements at campaign rallies with a video that reached more than 6 million viewers on Twitter, and offered a preview of one of the most racially charged political attack ads to appear on television in decades.
The minute-long social media video begins with an unsettling image of a bald man smirking under the headline: “Illegal immigrant Luis Bracamontes killed our people!”
As Bracamontes can be heard profanely bragging about the murders and threatening to commit more from a courtroom in Sacramento, while the text overlaying the video claims, “Democrats let him into the country. Democrats let him stay.”
Neither claim is entirely accurate, notes the Sacramento Bee. Bracamontes was arrested twice by Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio in Arizona, and deported, only to slip back into the country during the administrations of Democratic President Bill Clinton, and later, his Republican White House successor, George W. Bush.
The video pivots to footage of throngs of Central American migrants crowding streets and attempting to push over a fence, stopping briefly for a Fox News interview of an asylum seeker, saying he hoped apply for a pardon for an attempted murder.
“Who else would Democrats let in?” The implication is plain.
Bracamontes is no longer a danger to society. He’s sitting on death row at San Quentin State Prison for the October 2014 killings.
Twitter hasn’t responded to Deadline’s inquiry, asking how President Trump’s tweeted video is consistent with its policy banning hateful content, specifically content that targets “individuals with content intended to incite fear or spread fearful stereotypes.”
The Trump ad drew comparisons to the “Willie Horton” campaign ad that was purchased by backers of George H.W. Bush in his 1988 presidential campaign against Michael Dukakis. Horton, who was African-American, was a convicted murderer who raped a white woman while furloughed from prison under a program in place when Dukakis was governor of Massachusetts.
Bebitch Jeffe said Trump knows the midterm election will be a referendum on his presidency. Trump wants to motivate voters with a more visceral appeal: “He wanted that referendum to be based on immigration, and he’s using fear and anger to fuel that fire.”