President Donald Trump tweeted an incendiary political ad Wednesday that suggested members of a migrant caravan heading towards the U.S. could be cop killers.
Designed to rile immigration fears ahead of the midterms, the spot accuses Democrats of allowing an undocumented migrant later convicted of murder to stay in the U.S.
Video of the murderer in court fades to images of the caravan, made up mostly of Hondurans fleeing violence. A tagline reads: “Who else would the Democrats let in?”
The ad comes five days after Trump said: “We must unify as a nation in peace, love and in harmony.”
The spot recalls the “Willie Horton” ad from the 1988 presidential campaign of George H.W. Bush. That ad, which focused on a convicted murderer who committed rape while furloughed in Massachusetts, is viewed as one of the most racially charged in modern political history.
Trump’s new ad features Luis Bracamontes, who was sentenced to death in April for killing two police officers during a 2014 shooting spree in California. Bracamontes, a Mexican, was in the U.S. illegally at the time and had previously been deported twice.
The footage shows an unrepentant Bracamontes smiling at prosecutors, saying: "I’m going to kill more cops soon.”
Trump's video, which has been viewed almost two million times, was tweeted alongside a “Jobs Not Mobs” video, which depicts Democrats as violent thugs.
Both spots ramp up Trump’s fear mongering ahead of the elections, while the Bracamontes ad ensures the caravan story remains in the spotlight in the crucial days before the vote.
“This is distracting, divisive Donald at his worst,” DNC chair Tom Perez told CNN Wednesday. “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."
Republican Sen. Jeff Flake called the ad ”a new low in campaigning. It’s sickening.”
Trump doubled down on his claim that the caravan — which consists of around 3,500 migrants including women and children — is a threat to national security during an interview broadcast Wednesday on ABC.
“They can’t invade our country. You look at that it almost looks like an invasion. It almost does look like an invasion,” Trump said.
Trump surprised the Pentagon Wednesday by claiming that the troop deployment to the southern border could reach as high as 15,000 — roughly the same number of troops the U.S. currently has in Afghanistan.
Cover image: A screen grab from the Republican ad featuring Luis Bracamontes tweeted out by Trump.