While most condemned the Latino Victory Fund ad that ran during the closing days of Virginia’s gubernatorial race, which showed a supporter of Republican candidate Ed Gillespie driving a pick-up truck and running down Hispanic, Muslim, black, and Asians kids, Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez seemed to be fine with it. It also appears that the Democratic candidate, Ralph Northam, coordinated with LVF to push that ad; LVF listed the ad as a $60,000+ in-kind media contribution. There’s nothing wrong with that, but Northam said this ad was totally outside his campaign operation. Not true.
Speaking with Meet the Press’s Chuck Todd, Perez said that there’s been a lot of dog whistling in this race, and that Northam was trying to unite people. Right—so, you do that by apparently coordinating with the LVF to push an ad that says white people are all racists, drive pickup trucks, love the Confederacy, and just cannot wait to run over nonwhites in the street? The Roanoke Times, which isn’t a Republican-friendly paper, aptly noted that what this ad conveys is that Republicans are bad people, and if you support them—you’re a bad person. It portrays white rural voters as genocidal, and while they offer Hillary Clinton some cover—they say her remarks were misinterpreted—the LVF ad conveys a “deplorable”-like tone.
First, it’s factually wrong — no small thing. The ad suggests that Gillespie supporters are racist vigilantes who want to run down minority kids. Really? Really??
Secondly, the ad does not target the candidate but rather his supporters. That seems akin to Hillary Clinton’s comment about many supporters of Donald Trump being a “basket of deplorables.” Her comment was misinterpreted; she went on to define those deplorables as people who are “racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic — Islamophobic — you name it.” Ideally, even Republicans would agree that racists, sexists and the lot are deplorable, but her comment came off as showing contempt for Trump supporters in general. This ad doesn’t even have that Clintonesque nuance. It just shows a white guy in a pick-up truck — and implies Gillespie supporters want to kill minority kids. Umm, that’s a lot of Virginians right there who are being called not just homicidal but genocidal.
We’ve already said that campaign advertising is exaggerated so we understand we’re not supposed to take this ad literally. But the message is unmistakable — Republicans are bad people. That’s not a good message to be sending in a democracy, where come the day after the election we’re all still going to be living together and working together in a civil society. Perhaps you think Gillespie is wrong on the issues, but that doesn’t make his supporters bad people.
In short, you attack the candidate, not the voters. Well, Democrats seem to be doing a lot of the latter.
Todd asked Perez if he was a racist since he drives a pickup truck, and wondered if he was aware that this is what voters saw from this ad (via Free Beacon):
Aren't you stereotyping?" Todd asked. "I drive a pickup truck. Are all pickup truck drivers racist? Do you understand why some people think the ad implies that?"
"Let's be clear about what's happening in the race in Virginia and in all too many races: dogwhistle politics," Perez sad. "Steve Bannon just endorsed Ed Gillespie in Virginia this morning, and throughout this campaign Ed Gillespie has been fear-mongering. He's been doing the same thing Donald Trump did. That's not fair. That's not right."
Perez went on to say that Gillespie's Democratic opponent, Ralph Northam, and lieutenant governor nominee Justin Fairfax are looking for ways to unite people.
"Ed Gillespie, throughout the campaign, has been dividing people," Perez said. "When you hit the bully back and the bully starts crying, those are crocodile tears to me."
The Democratic Party has no message, no agenda, it’s a total nightmare when it comes to fundraising, and they seem to be in no rush to reach out to white rural voters, who they need (sorry, it’s the truth) to retake Congress and the White House. Barack Obama did okay with white working class voters in 2008 and 2012, so it’s not like this electoral puzzle is a hard one. Still, in the era of Trump and identity politics that’s engulfed the Democratic base, white voter outreach is anathema they’re still brain dead and if the head of the DNC is fine with an ad that everyone and their mother said was outrageous, expect the wilderness years to continue. As we head into Election Day, Gillespie has an agenda with an accompanying message. Northam has been soporific, direction-less, and made moves that could have potentially animated the vestiges of the GOP base that remain dormant in off-year elections. He also has issues on his left flank with environmental groups over the pipeline projects in rural Virginia, which the labor unions support, and liberal groups, who are incensed he flip-flopped on sanctuary cities. One group, Democracy for America, is ceasing all operations aiding Northam. So, it’s not exactly a strong finish for the two-time Bush voter.