Washington (CNN)President Donald Trump’s new Willie Horton-style web video posted to Twitter on Wednesday night represented a new flashpoint in a culture war he is stoking ahead of next week’s midterm elections. But it also came as part of a broader strategy GOP candidates are using in key House, Senate and governor’s races.
Republican candidates and outside groups involved in tough races, particularly in deep-red states and districts where turning out the conservative base is all that matters, are airing television advertisements stoking fears and spreading misinformation about the group of migrants still 900 miles from the Southern border.
It’s the GOP’s closing argument in Tennessee, where Republican Rep. Marsha Blackburn, who faces Democratic former governor Phil Bredesen in a competitive Senate race, has aired ads that mention the “caravan” nearly 800 times, according to an analysis by Kantar/CMAG, which tracks political ads.
One Blackburn ad describes the migrants as “gang members, known criminals, people from the Middle East, possibly even terrorists.” A narrator says that “Marsha Blackburn will stand with Trump to build the wall and stop the caravan.”
The migrants, traveling as a group for safety, have left their home countries and are heading to the United States. Trump and his allies have tried to stoke fears about the group and tie them to Democrats ahead of the midterm elections. There have been no reports, in the press or publicly from intelligence agencies, to suggest there are people from the Middle East embedded in the caravan.
The Senate Leadership Fund, a super PAC aligned with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, has also aired ads attacking Bredesen. “The caravan is coming, yet Bredesen is too liberal to care,” a narrator says in one ad.
The ads mimic a strategy Trump set into motion weeks ago. Ignoring some Republicans’ pleas to put a booming economy at the forefront in the midterms, the President has launched an all-out culture war depicting immigrants, particularly Latinos, as a threat to the nation. He said Wednesday he might send 15,000 troops — three times the number currently fighting ISIS in Iraq — to meet the group of migrants. He has hyped it as an imminent threat, even though the group is shrinking in numbers and still weeks from the border.
On Wednesday night, Trump escalated his race-fueled campaign further, posting on Twitter a video produced by the Republican consulting firm Jamestown Associates that depicts Democrats as plotting to help people they depict as Central American invaders overrun the nation with cop killers.
The web ad features Luis Bracamontes, a Mexican man who had previously been deported but returned to the United States and was convicted in February in the killing of two California deputies.
“I’m going to kill more cops soon,” Bracamontes is shown saying in court as captions flash across the screen reading, “Democrats let him into our country. Democrats let him stay.”