Hillary Clinton’s first web video from this new, Trump-as-actual-GOP-candidate phase of the presidential race is absolutely brutal. For Louisiana television viewers, it should also be strangely familiar.
For over a minute, the Clinton ad plays clips of Donald Trump’s fellow Republicans, including his vanquished opponents, telling the world just what they think of the garish real estate developer who’s on track to be the party’s nominee — and no doubt what Clinton thinks of him as well.
There’s Mitt Romney labeling Trump a “phony,” Marco Rubio calling him “the most vulgar person to ever aspire to the presidency,” Carly Fiorina contending that he “seems to only feel big when he’s trying to make other people look small,” Ted Cruz saying he’s “utterly amoral” and Lindsey Graham calling him a “race-baiting, xenophobic religious bigot” and “so unfit to be commander-in-chief.” The compilation ends with Jeb Bush shaking his head and saying, half to himself, that the guy “needs therapy.”
Republicans agree: Donald Trump is reckless, dangerous, and divisive. https://t.co/fUkISvxMmc— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) May 5, 2016
It’s a stunning display that could well have been modeled on an equally wicked ad from last fall’s governor race, this one produced by the Democratic Gumbo PAC and targeting John Bel Edwards’ Republican runoff opponent. It featured testimony, pulled directly from primary-season televised debates, of fellow Republicans Jay Dardenne and Scott Angelle dripping with disdain as they ripped David Vitter to shreds. This was the ad that replayed Dardenne’s contention that Vitter was “ineffective,” “vicious” and “lying,” and Angelle equating the prospect of a Vitter victory with a “stench that is getting ready to come over Louisiana.”
Beyond the obvious punch that such in-party critiques carry, Gumbo PAC’s Trey Ourso said later that the aim of the ad was to prevent Republicans from putting the primary season rancor behind them and uniting behind the winning candidate. Feelings were raw among supporters of the losing candidates, and the ad aimed to “freeze them there,” Ourso said at a post-election discussion at LSU’s Manship School of Mass Communication. Another goal, Ourso said that day, was to make it difficult for Dardenne and Angelle to endorse Vitter, which would have been a pretty hard sell while their own critiques were playing night after night on TV.
If Ourso had some great material to work with, the Clinton campaign has more on-the-record criticism of Trump than it could ever hope to use.
Still, Clinton faces one challenge that Gumbo PAC didn’t. Edwards and his backers only had to hold the mood for a couple of weeks. Clinton’s got to keep it up for the next five long months.
‘Grace notes’ is a daily feature by Advocate columnist Stephanie Grace. To read more of her content, including her full columns, click here.