Republicans prepared closing ads for the midterms that would echo Ronald Reagan’s famous “morning in America” ads from 1984 and tout the strong economy, but President Donald Trump personally nixed them. Instead, according to a CNN report, Trump preferred to end the campaign by stirring up xenophobic paranoia about immigration.
The president’s decision was partially a product of his concern he needed a way to change the media narrative in the wake of news about a bomber targeting his political opponents and the anti-Semitic massacre at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh. Republican officials told CNN that Trump “hated” the upbeat, positive ads about the thriving economy and instead the president “insisted to aides that his closing argument for the midterm elections would be a hardline anti-immigration message to fire up his core supporters.”
The result was the now infamous ad featuring Luis Bracamontes, an undocumented immigrant who killed two police officers. The ad has been rejected for being misleading and racist by NBC, CNN, Fox, and Facebook. Trump gave it his personal stamp of approval by tweeting it.
Trump’s rejection of the more positive message is indicative of one of his political weaknesses. He has a limited tonal range and is most comfortable when pushing a divisive “us versus them” message. While not averse to boasting his accomplishments, he has trouble selling a message that things are getting better.