WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump appeared unfazed Monday by a decision from NBC, Fox News and Facebook to pull a controversial ad released by his reelection campaign.
“I don’t know about it,” Trump said on the tarmac of Andrews Air Force Base when asked about the decision on the tarmac. “We have a lot of ads and they certainly are effective, based on the numbers we’ve seen.”
When asked why his campaign released an ad that has been widely slammed by the president’s critics as offensive, Trump demurred.
“A lot of things are offensive. Your questions are offensive a lot of times,” Trump told reporters before leaving for a rally in Cleveland.
The ad features video of Luis Bracamontes, an undocumented immigrant who killed two police officers in 2014, interspliced with footage of the migrant caravan from Honduras.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 31, 2018
Overlaid text states Democrats let Bracamontes into the country and asks who else the party could let into the country.
The ad was quickly blasted as race baiting, with many drawing comparisons to George H.W. Bush’s incendiary campaign ad featuring Willie Horton. The convicted murderer was serving a life sentence but was allowed to go on a weekend furlough in 1988 during which he committed rape, assault and armed robbery.
President Trump has tweeted a video alleging Democrats were responsible for letting a convicted cop killer from Mexico into the U.S., but he hasn’t provided evidence to support that claim. The video is reminiscent of the infamous 1988 “Willie Horton” ad. https://t.co/8n6bPT7gHl
— AP Politics (@AP_Politics) November 1, 2018
Trump’s channeling the Willie Horton ad in his latest attempt to stoke division and fury. https://t.co/F6C1NEMSfp
— Chris Matthews (@HardballChris) November 1, 2018
This may be the most desperate and vile ad since Willie Horton. Trump and Republicans don’t want to talk about the fact that they plan to repeal the ACA, gut Social Security, Medicare, & Medicaid, and cut taxes even further for their donors, so they’ve resorted to fearmongering. https://t.co/xaXNThEOfb
— Robert Reich (@RBReich) October 31, 2018
The ad has also been under attack on factual grounds, since Bracamontes was deported during the Clinton administration and came back into the U.S. during the presidency George W. Bush.
CNN issued a statement refusing to air the ad on the grounds that it was racist.
NBC aired the ad during primetime Sunday night, but said in a statement Monday that it would not do so again.
“After further review we recognize the insensitive nature of the ad and have decided to cease airing it across our properties as soon as possible,” a network spokesperson said in an unsigned statement.
Fox News released a statement Monday as well stating that they pulled the ad the day prior.
“Upon further review, Fox News pulled the ad yesterday and it will not appear on either Fox News Channel or Fox Business Network,” Marianne Gambelli, the media giant’s ad president said.
Facebook similarly said in an unsigned statement that the ad violated their policy barring “sensational content” and that the Trump campaign could therefore not pay for it to be spread on the site.
However, the statement noted that it can still be shared on the site organically.
Trump has made illegal immigration one of his key focuses in the waning days of the midterm elections, frequently drawing attention to the migrant caravan and floating a possible executive order to overturn birthright citizenship for the children of undocumented immigrants.