The Worst Campaign Attack Ads Of 2018 So Far

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Another election year, another wave of nasty attack ads. With the 2018 midterm cycle in its final weeks, Senate and House candidates are unleashing their worst against their opponents: allegations of “un-American” behavior, Islamophobic innuendo, and not-so-subtle racism.

TPM rounded up some of the most egregious campaign ads we’ve seen so far. Email us if there are any we missed!

Dismissing a black Democratic nominee as a “big-city rapper”

The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) has released a string of ads roundly condemned as racist about the Democratic nominee for New York’s 19th congressional district. Antonio Delgado is a Rhodes scholar and Harvard Law School grad who happens to be black. The NRCC’s ads have focused heavily on the rap album he released in 2007, referring to him as “a rapper,” who is “not like us.” This particular spot features a decade-old photo of the candidate, or “big-city rapper,” wearing a hoodie.

Smearing a Palestinian nominee as a “security risk”

Indicted Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) has seized on the family history of his Democratic opponent, Ammar Campa-Najjar. In one campaign ad, Hunter used Campa-Najjar’s grandfather’s ties to a Palestinian terrorist organization to claim the “Palestinian, Mexican-American Democrat” is a “security risk” working to infiltrate the U.S. government.

Taking a foreign-language speech wildly out of context

Rep. Chris Collins (R-NY), who is also facing federal charges, used a misleading clip of his Democratic opponent speaking Korean to claim he wants to ship jobs out of the U.S. The ad imposes a video of Nate McMurray, a fluent Korean speaker married to a Korean woman, against an image of North Korean Dictator Kim Jung Un and the caption: “worked to send jobs to China and Korea.” McMurray was actually talking about bringing peace to the Korean Peninsula in the clip.

Consorting with underage prostitutes

In a salacious new ad, Bob Hugin revived unproven allegations that Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) routinely hired underage prostitutes during vacations to the Dominican Republic. The ad misleadingly presents unsubstantiated allegations first surfaced by the conservative Daily Caller as facts corroborated by federal law enforcement.

Helping Libyans reduce payments to American terrorism victims

The Congressional Leadership Fund, House Republicans’ chief super PAC, ran an ad against Aftab Pureval, the Democrat challenging Rep. Steve Chabot (R-OH), noting that he worked for a lobbying firm that “made millions helping Libyans reduce payments owed to families of Americans killed by Libyan terrorism.” Pureval did work for a firm that helped Libya reduce payments to Americans, but he did not work on that project and the reduced payments were approved by Congress, as the Washington Post noted.

Lobbying “for terrorists’ rights”

The Congressional Leadership Fund ran another ad suggesting that a Democrat sympathized with terrorists. An ad in August charged that Tom Malinowski, the Democrat challenging Rep. Leonard Lance (R-NJ), “lobbied for terrorists’ rights.” With that misleading phrase, CLF was referring to Malinowski’s work lobbying for access to courts for “enemy combatant detainees.”

“Protesting us in a pink tutu”

Is it possible for a woman to run a sexist ad? Republican Rep. Martha McSally’s ad attacking her opponent in the Arizona Senate race, Democratic Rep. Kyrsten Sinema suggests it’s feasible. In an August ad, McSally portrays herself as a serious combat veteran who was deployed abroad while Sinema was “protesting us in a pink tutu,” suggesting that her Democratic opponent was unserious and un-American.

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