A super PAC’s outlandish new ad for an Arkansas Republican used Brett M. Kavanaugh’s plight to argue that Democrats could bring back lynchings against black men. It was quickly and widely denounced — including by the congressman it was designed to support.
The radio ad was created by a group calling itself Black Americans for the President’s Agenda to support Rep. French Hill in his reelection campaign against Democrat Clarke Tucker. Hill represents the 2nd District, a swath of land encompassing Little Rock; the district is about 23 percent black. Both Hill and Tucker are white.
The ad takes the form of a conversation between two black women discussing the sexual misconduct allegations levied against Kavanaugh, claiming that his treatment was a sign that the presumption of innocence had turned into the presumption of guilt in the United States.
“If the Democrats can do that to a white justice of the Supreme Court,” one of the women says, “what will happen to our husbands, our fathers, or our sons, when a white girl lies on them?”
The second woman replies: “White Democrats will be lynching black folk again.”
She adds later:
“We can’t afford to let white Democrats take us back to bad old days of race verdicts, life sentences and lynchings when a white girl screams rape.”
The ad was quickly denounced Thursday after it began circulating on social media.
“Black conservatives really think black people talk like this *facepalm,*” tweeted Oliver Willis, a writer for the progressive website Shareblue Media.
“The slime gets deep in the race for 2nd District,” wrote the Arkansas Times, an alt-weekly in Little Rock.
“We only defeat hate through these four letters-V.O.T.E,” the NAACP tweeted in response to the ad.
Hill also denounced the advertisement as it circulated.
“Some may have heard an appalling ad on the radio,” he said in a statement posted on Twitter. “I condemn this outrageous ad in the strongest terms. I do not support that message, and there is no place in Arkansas for this nonsense.”
There were 492 lynchings of African Americans in Arkansas from 1877 to 1950, according to the Equal Justice Initiative.
The nearly $50,000 ad buy has been running in radio slots for about a week and a half, according to Vernon Robinson, who co-founded the pro-Trump super PAC.
A similar ad was also deployed in the U.S. Senate race in Missouri, where it aired in the Kansas City and St. Louis areas in support of Republican Josh Hawley’s bid to unseat Sen. Claire McCaskill, a Democrat. Hawley did not return an immediate request for comment sent to a spokeswoman.
Robinson, a black 63-year-old activist and former congressional candidate who led the effort to draft Ben Carson for president in 2015, called the ad “payback” for the Kavanaugh hearings, according to the fringe conservative site Populist Media.
Robinson told The Washington Post the ad was born out of a simple calculation: that black voters — “a constituency that Democrats have to win,” he said — could be persuaded to fear the specter of false rape allegations.
“The #MeToo movement overreached,” he said. “If Claire McCaskill gets less than 90 percent [of the black vote], she loses.”
He also plans to target her with an anti-abortion ad directed at black voters, according to McClatchy.
This isn’t Robinson’s first incendiary political ad. He ran for Congress and lost in 2006 after cutting a political ad set to mariachi music that said his Democratic opponent wanted to turn America into a “fiesta for illegal aliens and homosexuals.”
Arkansas’s 2nd District is one of four congressional seats in the state, all of which are held by Republicans. Hill won reelection in 2016 with 58 percent of the vote, but the race in the district is believed to have the potential to be more competitive this year.
“The buy suggests some concern about Hill’s standing in the race against Clarke Tucker, who should poll well among black voters as Democrats traditionally have in the 2nd District,” the Arkansas Times wrote.
Hill’s Democratic opponent, Tucker, also condemned the ad and blamed him for it.
In turn, Hill slammed Tucker for spreading “this race baiting ad” and called on his opponent “to delete his tweet spreading this message unbecoming of political discourse.”