The Washington Post
By Allyson Chiu
Nov. 1, 2018
Pinned at the top of President Trump’s Twitter feed Wednesday was a video. The man on the screen has a shaved head and a mustache and long chin hair. Smiling, he announces, “I killed f‐‐‐--- cops.”
The man is Luis Bracamontes, a twice-deported Mexican immigrant who was given the death penalty in April for killing two California law enforcement officers in 2014. At the time of the shootings, Bracamontes was in the United States illegally — and now, with the midterm election approaching, he’s the star of the GOP’s latest campaign ad.
“Illegal immigrant, Luis Bracamontes, killed our people!” reads text on the 53-second video, which is filled with audible expletives. “Democrats let him into our country. . . . Democrats let him stay.”
The text is superimposed over videos of Bracamontes appearing to show no remorse for his crimes, and even declaring, “I’m going to kill more cops soon.”
More footage follows: Throngs of unidentified people rioting in unidentified streets and pushing down fences in undisclosed locations. A Fox News Channel correspondent interviewing a man identified only as “deported immigrant in caravan,” who asks to be pardoned for attempted murder.
“Who else would Democrats let in?” the video asks. An image of Bracamontes smiling reappears before being replaced by text, “President Donald Trump and Republicans are making America safe again.”
The video, which the president promoted Wednesday afternoon to his 55.5 million Twitter followers, came with a message from Trump to “Vote Republican now!” As of early Thursday morning, the video had been viewed more than 1.8 million times, drawing widespread condemnation.
Trump and Republicans were criticized for “fearmongering,” and the ad has been decried as “racist,” with many likening it to the infamous “Willie Horton” ads supporting George H.W. Bush in the 1988 presidential election. Only the video Trump shared, critics say, is “far worse.”
About 30 years ago, William Horton, a relatively unknown African American felon in Massachusetts, became “Willie Horton,” the focal point of attack ads from Bush’s campaign against Michael Dukakis, the Democratic presidential nominee and governor of Massachusetts.
Horton, a convicted murderer serving a life sentence, was temporarily released from prison in June 1986 as part of Massachusetts’s weekend furlough program, which Dukakis supported. Horton escaped while on furlough and in April 1987, he raped a white woman and stabbed her white fiance.
The “Revolving Door” TV ad accusing Dukakis of being soft on crime showed convicts coming in and out of prison through a revolving door made of prison bars, and was meant to allude to Horton, Rolling Stone reported. The ad was largely masterminded by Roger Ailes, who founded Fox News Channel in 1996.
“The only question is whether we depict Willie Horton with a knife in his hand — or without it,” Ailes once told a reporter, according to Rolling Stone.
Another ad called “Weekend Passes,” run by the National Political Action Committee, took things a step further and included Horton’s mug shot. That ad was created by Larry McCarthy, who had worked under Ailes for six years during the 1980s, the New Yorker reported.
“This was a classic example of racial cuing,” Claire Jean Kim, a political-science professor at the University of California at Irvine, said in a 2012 PBS special. “The insinuation is, if you elect Governor Dukakis as president, we’re going to have black rapists running amok in the country. It’s playing to white fears about black crime.”