Thirty years ago, Massachusetts Michael Dukakis saw his presidential bid come undone under a barrage of negative ads, the most lethal of which depicted a furloughed prisoner who had raped a woman and committed armed robbery while out of prison.
Known as the “Willie Horton ad,” the spot became the standard by which all other racist dog whistles were measured. Until this week. On Thursday, Donald Trump released a video that spotlighted the case of an undocumented immigrant who, without remorse, killed two sheriff’s deputies after being let back into the country.
The Trump video was meant to demonize both immigrants and Democrats. But it failed to note two critical details: that the man had been let back into the country during the Bush administration and that he had been first released by the office of then-Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, a prominent Trump supporter. On Friday, Dukakis responded to a request for comment on the Trump video. And though he said he was too busy to give it much thought, he did offer one observation: “It appears this guy was released by, of all people, Trump’s favorite sheriff. ’Nuff said.”