UPDATE: The Trump Campaign distanced itself by denouncing the robocall and other racist ads supporting him. A statement from Hope Hicks, a Trump spokesperson, reaffirmed that the Trump Campaign does indeed, “strongly condemn this rhetoric and these activities of which we have no knowledge.”
However, the fight is not over yet. Sean Spicer, the RNC’s chief strategist and communications director, condemned McMullin on CNN. He acknowledged the ad was ‘disgusting,’ Spicer claimed that “for him [McMullin] to then turn it back on them [the Trump Campaign] is almost as reprehensible.” Spicer also dismissed the close race between the two candidates, insisting that Trump, “will win Utah hands down.”
The Trump-McMullin rivalry is getting dirty as the November 8th deadline rapidly approaches.
Yesterday, the tension reached a high point when McMullin, who is running as an independent conservative, responded to the attack Donald Trump made against him in an interview. In quintessential Trump-like fashion, the Republican nominee characterized the third-party candidate as a ‘nobody’ who is simultaneously dangerous to the Trump campaign. Trump admitted that McMullin, “takes votes away from me, this man who I never heard of…”
Later, it became known that a vocal Trump supporter, William Johnson, decided to carry on the fight on behalf the Republican candidate. Prior advertising for Trump has branded Johnson as a white supremacist. Johnson paid for and created a $2,000 robocall targeting McMullin, which will reach a minimum of 193,000 people. The ad personally discredited the independent candidate. You can listen to it at The Daily Beast.
One of Johnson’s talking points – one that actually discussed policy issues – accused McMullin of being an “open borders, amnesty supporter.” However, McMullin’s public stance is the opposite. He said that the country needs:
“A president who will enforce the law instead of forcing through an illegal amnesty by executive order. Nor should ‘sanctuary cities’ be able to refuse cooperation with the federal enforcement efforts…Once [the borders] are secured, there should be a process of earned legalization for the illegal immigrants who are already here…legalization is not amnesty.”
Though the Trump campaign is not officially tied to Johnson’s ad, nor have they made an official comment on it, McMullin slammed the Republican candidate on Twitter for the second time today.
This attack is consistent with @realDonaldTrump's bigoted, deceitful campaign and vision for America. Utahns won't be fooled.— Evan McMullin (@Evan_McMullin) October 31, 2016
McMullin, who led the polls in Utah for a while,
Trump’s attention to the independent candidate does raise some pertinent questions, especially in the final week of the election. Does this attack by Johnson accurately convey how deeply right-winged Americans are divided? How will this new feud reflect in Utah’s tight race, which has six vital electoral votes up for grabs? With Trump diverting energy to the McMullin rivalry, could the Republican candidate lose focus regarding his biggest rival – Hillary Clinton?