A tweet on the CNN Communications Twitter account responded to Donald Trump Jr., the president’s eldest son who was upset CNN wouldn’t show the ad, by saying the network “has made it abundantly clear in its editorial coverage that this ad is racist.”
“When presented with an opportunity to be paid to take a version of this ad, we declined,” the tweet said.
Trump Jr. had criticized the network hours earlier in a tweet that included the ad. “I guess they only run fake news and won’t talk about real threats that don’t suit their agenda,” he wrote.
“Remember this on Tuesday,” he added, referring to Election Day. He had previously told followers to vote on the wrong day.
Trump first shared the anti-immigration ad on Wednesday. It likens the Central American migrant caravan bound for the U.S. border to undocumented immigrant Luis Bracamontes, the Mexican citizen who killed two police officers in 2014, to stir up fearful sentiment before the midterm elections.
The 53-second ad accuses Democrats of allowing Bracamontes to enter the country. Bracamontes was first deported back to Mexico under the Clinton administration, however, and returned to the U.S. under former President George W. Bush.
It has drawn comparisons to former President George H.W. Bush’s notoriously racist 1988 “Willie Horton” ad, which was about a black man who committed violent crimes against white people while on a furlough program in place under Bush’s opponent. The ad played on some white voters’ fears about Americans of color while painting Democrats as soft on crime, just as Trump now appears to be doing.
The president has propagated fear surrounding immigration in the lead-up to the 2018 midterm elections, falsely claiming on a number of occasions that the Central American caravan contains many gang members and Middle Eastern terrorists.
He has also voiced support for a right-wing conspiracy theory against Jewish billionaire George Soros, suggesting without evidence that the progressive donor was somehow financing the caravan.