This ad is already causing some panty-wetting among the social justice warriors:
Trump’s nasty “Act Of Love” ad is pretty much Willie Horton 2, Electric Boogaloo. I suppose you could say that Jeb deserves it, since his dad gave us the Willie Horton ads.
Donald Trump has a new ad out Monday morning, taking aim at Latino immigrants by giving the impression that they are all murderers. The ad is so ugly and fear-mongering it’s being dubbed a Willie Horton ad by the media.
Poor, misunderstood Willie Horton. Why does everyone pick on him?
William R. “Willie” Horton (born August 12, 1951) is an American convicted felon who, while serving a life sentence for murder (without the possibility of parole), was the beneficiary of a Massachusetts weekend furlough program. He did not return from his furlough, and ultimately he committed assault, armed robbery and rape.
On October 26, 1974, in Lawrence, Massachusetts, Horton and two accomplices robbed Joseph Fournier, a 17-year-old gas station attendant, and then fatally stabbed him 19 times after he had cooperated by handing over all of the money in the cash register. His body was dumped in a trash can. Fournier died from blood loss. Horton was convicted of murder, sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole, and incarcerated at the Northeastern Correctional Center in Massachusetts.
On June 6, 1986, he was released as part of a weekend furlough program but did not return. On April 3, 1987 in Oxon Hill, Maryland, Horton twice raped a local woman after pistol-whipping, knifing, binding, and gagging her fiancé. He then stole the car belonging to the man he had assaulted. He was later shot and captured by Corporal Yusuf Muhammad (formerly named Joseph Bell) of the Prince George’s County Police Department after a pursuit. On October 20, Horton was sentenced in Maryland to two consecutive life terms plus 85 years. The sentencing judge, Vincent J. Femia, refused to return Horton to Massachusetts, saying, “I’m not prepared to take the chance that Mr. Horton might again be furloughed or otherwise released. This man should never draw a breath of free air again.”
On April 18, 1996, Horton was transferred to the Jessup Correctional Institution (then called the Maryland House of Correction Annex), a maximum security prison in Jessup, Maryland, where he remains.
Democratic Presidential candidate Michael Dukakis was the governor of Massachusetts at the time of Horton’s release, and while he did not start the furlough program, he had supported it as a method of criminal rehabilitation. The state inmate furlough program, originally signed into law by Republican Governor Francis W. Sargent in 1972, excluded convicted first-degree murderers. However, in 1973, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled that this right extended to first-degree murderers, because the law specifically did not exclude them. The Massachusetts legislature quickly passed a bill prohibiting furloughs for such inmates. However, in 1976, Dukakis vetoed this bill arguing it would “cut the heart out of efforts at inmate rehabilitation.” The program remained in effect through the intervening term of governor Edward J. King and was abolished during Dukakis’ final term of office on April 28, 1988. This abolition occurred only after the Lawrence Eagle-Tribune had run 175 stories about the furlough program and won a Pulitzer Prize.
Beginning on September 21, 1988, the Americans for Bush arm of the National Security Political Action Committee (NSPAC), under the auspices of Floyd Brown, began running a campaign ad entitled “Weekend Passes”, using the Horton case to attack Dukakis. The ad was produced by media consultant Larry McCarthy, who had previously worked for Roger Ailes. After clearing the ad with television stations, McCarthy added a menacing mug shot of Horton, who is African American. The ad was run as an independent expenditure, separate from the Bush campaign, which claimed not to have had any role in its production. The ad referred to Horton as “Willie”, although he later said he had always gone by William.
On October 5, 1988, a day after the “Weekend Passes” ad was taken off the airwaves, was the date of the Bentsen-Quayle debate, the Bush campaign ran its own ad, “Revolving Door”, which also attacked Dukakis over the weekend furlough program. While the advertisement did not mention Horton or feature his photograph, it depicted a variety of intimidating-looking men walking in and out of prison through a revolving door.
Attempting to counter-attack, Dukakis’ campaign ran an ad about a convicted heroin dealer named Angel Medrano who raped and killed a pregnant mother of two after escaping from a federal correctional halfway house. The controversy escalated when Vice Presidential candidate Lloyd Bentsen and former Democratic presidential candidate and civil rights leader Jesse Jackson called the “Revolving Door” ad racist – a charge which was denied by Bush.
The ad caused quite a stir, but it is impossible to determine how effective it was. It was only one of many campaign issues that year. Dukakis lost badly in the November election.
The conventional wisdom is that such ads are racist. This is the same conventional wisdom that says showing actual pictures of honor students like Trayvon Martin and Mike Brown in “thug life” poses is racist.
BTW – Al Gore first brought up Willie Horton in the 1988 primary.