Sharron Angle has a new ad up that features Hispanic-appearing men carrying weapons and appearing in police mug shots. In the ad, she alleges that her opponent, incumbent Sen. Harry Reid (D) of Nevada, is soft on illegal immigrants.
Has the Republican Senate candidate gone too far? Is the spot a racially-tinged appeal in the mold of the Willie Horton attack ad of 1988?
That was a campaign ad sponsored by an outside spending group that associated Democratic presidential candidate Michael Dukakis with a black convict, William Horton, who murdered a woman after escaping from a furlough program that Mr. Dukakis had supported.
Hispanic and pro-immigration groups are furious. They say they will launch a Spanish-language ad blitz to try to counteract the effect of an ad which, they say, depicts Hispanics as criminals and thugs.
The groups – America’s Voice, Mi Familia Vota, and Campaign for Community Change – said Tuesday that this campaign will try to convince Hispanics of the need to vote to counteract rising anti-immigrant sentiment.
"Sharron Angle has decided to run one of the ugliest anti-illegal immigrants ad campaigns in history," said Frank Sharry, executive director of America's Voice.
Earlier this month, the Hispanic groups had accused a Republican-backed organization of running ads in Spanish in Nevada which were designed to actually suppress the Hispanic vote.
Those ads, paid for by an outside funding group named Latinos for Reform had said, in Spanish, “Don’t vote this November. That’s the only way to send them a clear message.”
The producers of those ads defended them, saying that Democrats take the Hispanic vote for granted.
Ms. Angle’s newest spot begins with quick cuts of a border crossing in El Paso, Texas, followed by a blurry image of swarthy, large men striding towards the camera. Then it shows a still photo of what appears to be a gang, with at least one man holding an assault rifle.
“Millions of illegal aliens, swarming across our border, joining violent gangs, forcing families to live in fear,” says the ad.
It then goes on to say that Senator Reid has voted to give illegal aliens Social Security numbers, among other things, and sided with President Obama and the President of Mexico to “block Arizona’s tough new immigration law."
Whatever the harshness of the ad, it does address a real policy difference between the two Nevada Senate opponents. Reid supports policies that would allow illegal immigrants to become legal residents. Angle does not.
The Nevada Senate race has been one of the most bitter slugfests seen in a midterm election in decades. The candidates have been locked in a dead heat for months, with neither able to open up a statistically significant lead on the other.