Yesterday evening, the Latino Victory Fund deleted its video ad that had depicted a pickup truck with a Confederate flag, an Ed Gillespie bumper sticker, and a Gadsden-flag license plate chasing and attempting to run down minority children. Following the terror attack in downtown Manhattan on Tuesday afternoon, the group removed the video from YouTube and deleted its tweets promoting the ad, including one in which the group defended the video in the face of immediate and sustained criticism.
Here is the video, courtesy of Townhall.com:
And here is the Latino Victory Fund’s statement upon the removal of the video:
“We knew our ad would ruffle feathers. We held a mirror up to the Republican Party, and they don’t like what they see,” said Cristobal J. Alex, the group’s president. “Given recent events, we will be placing other powerful ads into rotation that highlight the reasons we need to elect progressive leaders in Virginia.”
It is absolutely disgusting that it took a terrorist attack — an actual murderer mowing down Americans and other individuals in a pickup truck on the streets of Manhattan — for the Latino Victory Fund to take down its heinous video. And even though it did remove the ad, under immense pressure, the president’s statement reveals that he and his group have no comprehension of how utterly inappropriate and revolting the video itself was. To suggest that Ed Gillespie, a normal, mild-mannered Republican, wants to literally run over minority children — and, by extension, that his supporters must want the same thing — is not political debate.
Unfortunately for the Latino Victory Fund, its ad has almost certainly backfired. Not only has the group faced intense scrutiny in light of the Manhattan attack, but the ad may have in fact mobilized the Republican base in Virginia in a way the Gillespie campaign might not have been able to do on its own. A CNN journalist reported on Tuesday night that donations to Gillespie tripled over the last two days, after the ad aired. In one revealing anecdote, a PR strategist reported that a contractor working on his house was incensed by the ad, saying, “I drive a truck. I wear a hat. I’m voting for Gillespie. My foreman and whole crew are Hispanic. I know their kids. I buy them gifts. But wow, I know what the Democrats think of me now.”
What’s more, Democrat Ralph Northam has come under fire for backing the Latino Victory Fund ad. “Northam doesn’t just disagree with millions of Virginians who don’t share his liberal policy agenda. He disdains us!” Gillespie said on Fox News on Tuesday, an argument that was strengthened immensely by the Latino Victory Fund ad. Even the Washington Post editorial board critiqued Northam in light of the ad, despite the fact that it wasn’t produced by his own campaign. “It behooves Mr. Northam, while he is offering criticism, to make clear that even though the anti-Gillespie spot was not a product of his campaign, his campaign wants no part of it,” the board wrote.
The Post is exactly right. In a race that has already gotten fairly ugly, this video took things to a nearly unprecedented level, and used scare tactics to dishonestly smear the Republican party. Rather than taking Gillespie to task over his policy positions or his plans for Virginia, this group engaged in blatant fear-mongering and race-baiting, and in the process it downplayed the serious threat of terrorism and real murder. This video didn’t “hold a mirror up to the Republican party.” Far from it. In fact, this ad held up a mirror to progressives, who have shown themselves willing to portray their political opponents as cold-blooded murderers merely to win elections.