A new Trump campaign ad released online has been called "sickening" and "a new low in campaigning" by Republican Senator Jeff Flake, and is prompting headlines this morning including "Outrage erupts over Trump campaign ad blaming Democrats for immigrant who 'killed our people'" (USA Today), "Trump shocks with racist new ad days before midterms" (CNN) and "DNC chair blasts Trump ad as 'fear mongering'" ("Fox & Friends" via Fox News).
The ad shows old courtroom footage of Luis Bracamontes, an illegal immigrant who was accused of killing two Sacramento, California-area sheriff's deputies in 2014 (he was convicted and given the death penalty this past April), and it attempts to link him to the Central American migrant caravan that Trump has been characterizing as an "invasion."
Remarkably, very few news outlets seem to be aware that the ad is largely a rehash, save for the caravan update. Bracamontes also starred in a Trump ad released in January, titled "Complicit," in an effort to drum up support for the border wall. See Ad Age's coverage at the time: "Watch: Disturbing Trump Ad Calls Dems 'Complicit' in Murders Committed by Illegal Immigrants."
Clips from the same Bracamontes court session appear in both ads, both feature menacing music straight out of the political-attack-ad playbook, and both serve up exactly the same message: that the Democrats are welcoming murderous immigrants into our country.
The new Trump ad is, inevitably, being compared to the notorious 1988 "Willie Horton" ad released by a PAC that supported the presidential campaign of then-candidate George H. W. Bush. CNN's Stephen Collinson writes this morning that "Trump's web video, while just as shocking as the Horton spot, carries added weight since, unlike its 1988 predecessor, it bears the official endorsement of the leader of the Republican Party—Trump—and is not an outside effort."
But of course "Complicit," the earlier Bracamontes-focused ad, was also released by that same leader of the Republican Party, who had just celebrated the one-year anniversary of his presidency.
In other words, when it comes to inflammatory campaign messaging, we're all stuck in a hellish version of Punxsutawney.
UPDATE NO. 1 (Nov. 2):
FACT CHECK: The cop-killer featured in Trump's incendiary video blaming Democrats for his release was actually released by Joe Arpaio's office in 1998 and re-entered the country during the George W. Bush admin https://t.co/SXR9OuWQJB pic.twitter.com/VUcbvEGjnw— Yahoo News (@YahooNews) November 2, 2018
UPDATE NO. 2 (Nov 5): "NBC Runs Immigration Trump Ad Deemed Too Racist by CNN," via The New York Times.