One of the architects of the infamous Willie Horton ad praised President Trump’s new controversial campaign spot as “excellent” on Thursday.
Floyd G. Brown, who produced the 1988 Horton ad and now co-chairs the conservative America Fighting Back PAC, said Trump’s video hit at the core of the government’s responsibility “to protect citizens from physical threats at home and abroad.”
“It will move female voters who are concerned about personal and family security issues to vote Republican,” Brown told The Daily Beast. “President Trump has been effective in elevating this issue of personal security, and it will improve GOP results with female voters of all demographic groups on Tuesday.”
The video tweeted by the president on Wednesday drew immediate comparisons to the Horton ad, which blamed then-Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis for allowing the release of Horton, a convicted murder, on a weekend furlough, during which Horton raped a woman and committed armed robbery. The ad was regarded as devastating for the Dukakis campaign but was widely criticized for its racist dog whistles. Lee Atwater, Bush’s campaign manager, would express regret for the ad on his deathbed in 1991, though Brown stood by the work.
Trump’s video is more of a bullhorn. It opens with footage of convicted murder Luis Bracamontes, a Mexican man who was deported twice, but returned to the United States where he killed two policeman in 2014. In the clip, Bracamontes brags and smiles about his murders.
“Democrats let him into our country,” appears on the screen over Bracamontes’ grin. “Democrats let him stay.” In fact, Bracamontes was in the country illegally at the time of the crimes.
While the Horton ad was produced by a group formally unaffliliated with the Bush campaign—and was immediately disavowed by the then-vice president—Trump has proudly owned his spot. The video is currently pinned to the top of the president’s Twitter feed.
It’s unclear if the Trump video is actually an advertisement at all. It is 45 seconds in length (too long for a television spot) and, as of Thursday morning, has not been run as an ad on Facebook. Instead, it appears to have been released with the goal that its shock value would earn it free media play, in order to drive turnout for the midterm elections.
For his part, Floyd said this is exactly the type of video that voters need to see in order to confidently cast their vote.
“It is the best type of political ad because it shows stark differences between the agendas of the parties and helps voters make a more informed decision,” he said.