Is the Republican Party even trying to deny that it’s racist anymore?
On Monday, Republican National Committee communications chief Sean Spicer posted a tweet that linked to a Roll Call story about the GOP launching a “Willie Horton-style attack” on Democratic vice-presidential nominee Tim Kaine.
In case you need a reminder, the so-called “Willie Horton” ads were used by George H.W. Bush’s presidential campaign in 1988 to slam Democratic rival Michael Dukakis as soft on crime. They focused on Dukakis’s support of weekend furlough plans for prisoners during his time as governor of Massachusetts — and they singled out a black man named Willie Horton who had committed assault and rape after escaping during one of his furloughs.
In general, the consensus is that the ads were filled racially charged fear mongering that preyed upon white Americans’ anxieties about black criminals. In fact, the man who masterminded the ad campaign, Lee Atwater, even apologized on his deathbed for it.
Despite this, Spicer and the RNC apparently believe that the Willie Horton ads are a point of pride in the GOP’s electoral history.
As you might expect, many people on Twitter were eager to slam Spicer for bragging about launching a new Willie Horton attack. We’ve posted some choice examples below:
You're not supposed to say that part out loud, guys https://t.co/Af0lOoGzLL
— David A. Graham (@GrahamDavidA) October 3, 2016
I feel like you should be distancing yourself from this, not promoting it. Just saying. https://t.co/f2DvMy5Ri6
— Michelle Fields (@MichelleFields) October 3, 2016
kind of hard to square the gop claim that race baiting accusations are fake when yr top comms guy is proudly tweeting a willie horton attack
— Oliver Willis (@owillis) October 3, 2016
Why would you promote this as a positive? You actually think the Willie Horton ads are looked on as a good thing?https://t.co/bHchd5eOVM
— Alex Kaplan (@AlKapDC) October 3, 2016
Exclusive: Republicans now just tweeting things that will be telling examples in the next GOP Autopsy https://t.co/E6bSgihcfw
— LOLGOP (@LOLGOP) October 3, 2016
Sir….you are supposed to deny doing this, not promote that you are doing this. https://t.co/oCaOHBjYHw
— Zerlina Maxwell (@ZerlinaMaxwell) October 3, 2016
I'm all for running law and order ads, but to run around championing the spots as Willie Horton-esque is beyond bad.
— Amanda Carpenter (@amandacarpenter) October 3, 2016
Even Lee Atwater regretted running the racist Willie Horton ad and the GOP is *proud* to repeat the mistake. Official KKK endorsement next? https://t.co/KiGrHbdfvJ
— Protect Voter Rights (@jryangolden) October 3, 2016
— David B. Cohen (@POTUSProf) October 3, 2016