Courtroom footage of an illegal Mexican immigrant proudly saying he would “kill more cops” has been used as part of US President Donald Trump’s pre-election campaign to link Democrats and immigrants to violent crime.
Fellow Republicans and Democrats alike have slammed the advertisement, which ends with the tagline about making America “safe again”, saying it’s the most racially divisive political advertisement in three decades.
Al Cardenas, the Florida Republican Party’s former chairman wrote on Twitter: “This ad, and your full approval of it, will condemn you and your bigoted legacy forever in the annals of America’s history books”.
US Senator Jeff Flake, one of Trump’s most prominent Republican critics, said: “This is a sickening ad. Republicans everywhere should denounce it”.
The 53-second online advertisement features courtroom footage of Luis Bracamontes – an illegal immigrant from Mexico convicted in the 2014 killings of two police officers in Sacramento, California – saying in accented English he would “kill more cops”.
He smiles as he is led through the courtroom and says: “I’m gonna kill more cops soon”.
The advertisement cuts between clips of Bracamontes and scenes of migrants, likely a reference to a caravan of up to 3000 Central Americans headed through southern Mexico en route to the US border.
An interpreter for Fox News is also in the advertisement, translating for a reporter who is speaking to a man trying to cross the border. He reveals he is seeking a pardon for the felony charge of “attempted murder”.
“Who else would Democrats let in?” asks the ad – so far seen by 4.68 million viewers – which Mr Trump tweeted late on Wednesday.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 31, 2018
The ad ends with the tag: “President Donald J. Trump and Republicans are making America Safe Again!,” a play on Mr Trump’s “Make America Great Again” slogan.
Mr Trump’s presidential re-election campaign paid for the ad, US news media reported.
The campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
CNN reported the advertisement was made by Republican consulting firm Jamestown Associates.
Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez characterised the advertisement as “fear-mongering” and “distracting, divisive Donald at his worst”.
Mr Trump, whose administration takes a hard-line approach to legal and illegal immigration, has focused on the caravan over the past three weeks to drum up support for Republican congressional and gubernatorial candidates ahead of Tuesday’s congressional elections.
Democrats are generally favoured to win the 23 seats they need to gain a majority in the US House of Representatives, an advantage they could use to block Trump’s agenda.
Republicans have a stronger chance of keeping control of the Senate, according to opinion polls and nonpartisan forecasters.