Reprinted with permission from AlterNet.
With the 2018 midterms only five days away, President Donald Trump and the Republican Party are trying to rally their far-right base with a blatantly racist new ad that depicts Latino immigrants as violent criminal invaders and Democrats as their enablers. And the ad is so outrageous in its bigotry that even Al Cardenas, former chairman of the Florida GOP, is calling him out in no uncertain terms.
In a November 1 post on Twitter, Cardenas told Trump, “You are a despicable divider; the worse social poison to afflict our country in decades. This ad, and your full approval of it, will condemn you and your bigoted legacy forever in the annals of America’s history books.”
You are a despicable divider; the worse social poison to afflict our country in decades. This ad, and your full approval of it, will condemn you and your bigoted legacy forever in the annals of America’s history books https://t.co/eLYH33HEeP
— Al Cardenas (@AlCardenasFL_DC) November 1, 2018
GOP @RepCurbelo tells CNN the new POTUS web ad is “definitely part of a divide and conquer strategy that a lot of politicians including the president have used successfully in the past. I hope this doesn’t work…but that’s up to the American people.”
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) November 1, 2018
The ad depicts convicted cop killer Luis Bracamontes, who was sentenced to death earlier this year, smiling in a courtroom in Sacramento, California while bragging about his crimes. Text in the ad reads, “Illegal immigrant Luis Bracamontes killed our people. Democrats let him into our country. Democrats let him stay. Who else would Democrats let in? President Donald J. Trump and Republicans are making America safe again!”
An angry denunciation from Cardenas carries a lot of weight in right-wing Latino politics in Florida. Born in Havana, Cuba in 1948, Cardenas is well-known in Florida’s Cuban-America community—which, historically, has leaned Republican. In addition to his two terms as chairman of the Florida GOP, Cardenas served as chairman of the American Conservative Union from 2011-2014 and was a senior advisor for the 2016 presidential campaign of Jeb Bush (former Florida governor, younger brother of President George W. Bush and son of President George H.W. Bush).
Cardenas was not one of Florida’s NeverTrump Republicans. In a 2016 interview with Spain’s El País Cardenas described himself as a Republican Trump voter—saying, “Yes, I voted for Trump, but I had many reservations. First, I did it for Party Loyalty. Second, I was convinced that Hillary Clinton was going to win.”
In 2018, however, Cardenas has grown increasingly critical of Trump, describing his policy of separating families at the U.S./Mexico border as “deplorable.”
Alex Henderson is a news writer at AlterNet and veteran political journalist. His work has also appeared in Salon, Raw Story, Truthdig, National Memo, Philadelphia Weekly, Democratic Underground, L.A. Weekly, MintPress News and many other publications. Follow him on Twitter @alexvhenderson.