A new ad released by the Donald Trump campaign features an aging, gun-toting rock star who has repeatedly called for political violence, including for the assassinations of President Barack Obama and Trump’s Democratic rival Hillary Clinton.
The official Trump campaign ad, triumphantly titled “#HEARTLAND4TRUMP,” showcases the GOP presidential nominee’s appeal to (and Clinton’s alleged disdain for) hunters, fishers, and 2nd-Amendment enthusiasts. The 8-minute video promotes “traditional American values,” and features appearances from Trump-endorsing celebrities such as Tiffany Lakosky, Keith Mark, Julie Kreuter, Kris Kobach, Milwaukee County Sheriff David A. Clarke, Jr., and (of course) Sean Hannity and Trump himself.
Guitarist and singer/songwriter Ted Nugent also stars in the heartland ad. What makes Nugent’s role unique is that, unlike the other endorsers, the famous Detroit rocker has a long track record of calling for the deaths of Democratic leaders.
“Hillary Clinton is against all these things,” Nugent says in the ad. “She will destroy freedom that is uniquely American. Donald Trump will safeguard the things that make America the greatest place in the world.”
Nugent isn’t exactly an outlier in the conservative movement. He was recently reelected to the National Rifle Association's board of directors. He’s a friend and ally of social conservatives like Mike Huckabee. And in early 2012, Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney specifically sought, and won, Nugent’s endorsement. Regardless, Nugent’s views are a particularly extreme, and often repugnant and racist, manifestation of the American right-wing id.
For instance, he has spoken of his desire to shoot Senator Harry Reid. In April 2012, Nugent said that if President Obama won reelection, the musician and conservative activist would “either be dead or in jail by this time next year.” That comment, which at the time Trump defended as mere “figure of speech,” triggered an investigation by the U.S. Secret Service.
As recently as January, he called for both Obama and Clinton to “be tried for treason & hung.” (Just months later, Trump would find himself mired in controversy over a comment widely interpreted as a barely veiled, violent threat against Clinton.)
“Hey Hillary [Clinton], you might want to ride one of these [guns] into the sunset, you worthless bitch," he added for good measure during that same infamous mid-concert rant in 2007.
This is all just the tip of an overtly offensive iceberg for Nugent, who relentlessly attacks “political correctness” in all its forms, real, imagined, or otherwise. He has had no qualms about sharing anti-Semitic imagery on his Facebook page, for example, and has bashed unarmed victims of stabbing sprees and shootings as “so pathetic,” “embarrassing,” and “losers.”
Trump campaign did not respond to a request for comment regarding Nugent’s views and the campaign’s association with the controversial musician. But in the past year, Nugent has found a new political hero in the Trump presidential campaign—and Team Trump is now obviously happy to use his celebrity and notoriety to woo voters.
Shortly after Trump launched his White House run last summer, Nugent insisted that a President Trump would “kick ass and take names, and that's what America needs right now.”
“Donald Trump is as close to Ted Nugent as you’re going to get in politics,” Nugent said on Newsmax TV in January. The two do appear to agree quite a lot now on issues of immigration, political correctness, Islamist terror, and gun rights.
Nowadays, you can find Nugent plastering his Facebook wall with pleas for Americans to get out and vote for Trump in November.
“Black Americans would be wise to reject the destructive liberal policies and politicians who have devastated their communities and their families,” he posted on Tuesday morning. “Let’s make America great again for all Americans. Vote Trump for president.”