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This is the 30-year-old Willie Horton ad everybody is talking about today

There are attack ads, and then there are Willie Horton-type attack ads.It's a name given to political...

Posted: Nov 2, 2018 6:31 AM
Updated: Nov 2, 2018 6:31 AM

There are attack ads, and then there are Willie Horton-type attack ads.

It's a name given to political advertisements that blatantly stoke racial fears and stereotypes. They're a tried-and-true way to paint a political opponent as being soft on crime. And a lot of time they work.

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President Trump is hoping that he gets similar results for a web video, produced for his campaign, that he tweeted out Wednesday. Many are already calling it the most racist national political ad to come out in 30 years -- since Willie Horton.

What was in the Horton ad

The "Willie Horton" campaign ad was produced by supporters of George H.W. Bush for his 1988 presidential campaign against Michael Dukakis.

Horton, an African-American man, was a convicted murderer who raped a white woman and stabbed her partner while furloughed from prison under a Massachusetts program in place when Dukakis, the Democratic nominee, was governor.

The TV ad is now considered one of the most racially divisive in modern political history because it played into white fear and African-American stereotypes. In it, an off-screen narrator tells the story of Horton's crimes while pictures of Bush and Dukakis and a menacing mug shot of Horton flash across the screen. The narrator notes that Bush supports the death penalty for murderers.

"Dukakis not only opposes the death penalty, he allowed first-degree murderers to have weekend passes from prison," the narrator says.

The ad ends with this tag line: "Weekend prison passes, Dukakis on crime."

A potentially explosive attack

Bush campaign strategist Lee Atwater knew talking about Horton could be devastating to the Democratic nominee.

"Lee knew that it was powerful. Lee knew that it fit a liberal stereotype that would make a larger point about Dukakis," Bush deputy campaign manager Ed Rogers said in the CNN documentary "Race for The White House: George H.W. Bush versus Michael Dukakis."

"Lee also knew that he could be radioactive with Bush. That if it weren't handled right, Bush wouldn't use it. Bush would declare it off-limits."

After the independent group's ad aired, Bush's campaign later produced a related spot called "Revolving Door" that showed convicts walking in and out of prison as the narrator explained Dukakis' liberal positions on issues like mandatory sentencing for drug dealers without showing or mentioning Horton by name.

Dukakis campaign manager Susan Estrich later said the ad featuring Horton succeeded in achieving the GOP's goal, "which was to make Willie Horton into Dukakis' running mate."

The two ads tarred Dukakis with a soft-on-crime label that he couldn't shake. Bush went on to a landslide victory that November.

The current Trump ad

The new ad from the Trump campaign features Luis Bracamontes, a Mexican man who had previously been deported but returned to the United States and was convicted in February in the slaying of two California deputies.

"I'm going to kill more cops soon," a grinning Bracamontes is shown saying in court as captions flash across the screen reading, "Democrats let him into our country. Democrats let him stay."

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 468498

Reported Deaths: 9100
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison31907468
Hinds30552569
DeSoto29532342
Jackson22868335
Rankin21016355
Lee14393214
Madison13961263
Jones13053215
Forrest12879231
Lauderdale11244292
Lowndes10148171
Lamar9972122
Pearl River8569208
Lafayette8008136
Hancock7110107
Oktibbeha6764117
Washington6756146
Neshoba6350200
Monroe6304156
Warren6267159
Panola6036122
Pontotoc599292
Bolivar5960143
Marshall5917115
Union558885
Pike5424133
Lincoln5192127
Alcorn509388
George454766
Scott447392
Leflore4377138
Tippah431780
Itawamba429192
Prentiss429074
Copiah423883
Simpson4238108
Wayne419663
Tate418999
Adams4174109
Yazoo411486
Sunflower4057104
Covington404891
Marion399699
Leake389784
Coahoma385996
Newton360273
Grenada3489100
Stone342657
Tishomingo320987
Attala318285
Jasper308261
Winston298191
Clay282672
Chickasaw277464
Clarke271784
Holmes257685
Calhoun256939
Smith241546
Yalobusha215447
Tallahatchie213849
Walthall203457
Lawrence202431
Greene202045
Perry195053
Amite191251
Webster191141
Noxubee173437
Montgomery168652
Jefferson Davis164041
Carroll158936
Tunica146533
Benton137531
Kemper136538
Claiborne124134
Choctaw123824
Humphreys122036
Franklin114127
Quitman100925
Wilkinson98335
Jefferson85832
Sharkey61620
Issaquena1916
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 757893

Reported Deaths: 12784
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1082301712
Mobile694251158
Madison47738562
Baldwin35347420
Shelby34758281
Tuscaloosa32576495
Montgomery32249645
Lee21576200
Calhoun19621363
Morgan19061307
Etowah18363413
Marshall17028252
Houston15881337
St. Clair14724270
Limestone13908178
Elmore13812239
Cullman13756228
Lauderdale12909263
Talladega12124200
DeKalb11705220
Walker10047303
Autauga9371119
Blount9272146
Jackson8970132
Coffee8550150
Colbert8229160
Dale8162142
Escambia632298
Tallapoosa6255165
Covington6214153
Chilton6152128
Russell586753
Franklin558292
Chambers5155127
Dallas4569173
Marion4490114
Clarke447070
Pike439188
Geneva415999
Lawrence4002101
Winston399982
Bibb388975
Barbour334667
Marengo317778
Monroe306844
Butler305878
Pickens296166
Henry288550
Randolph288255
Hale282981
Cherokee275649
Fayette268569
Washington241844
Crenshaw226962
Clay219260
Macon211154
Cleburne205746
Lamar184638
Conecuh173337
Lowndes167856
Coosa160031
Wilcox153033
Bullock145642
Perry132430
Sumter122635
Greene117941
Choctaw71925
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