Democratic group compares Trump to Latin American strongmen in new ad

Democratic group compares Trump to Latin American strongmen in new ad
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A new campaign ad aimed at Hispanic voters in Florida negatively portrays President TrumpDonald John TrumpUSPS warns Pennsylvania mail-in ballots may not be delivered in time to be counted Michael Cohen book accuses Trump of corruption, fraud Trump requests mail-in ballot for Florida congressional primary MORE as an anti-democratic figure akin to Latin American "caudillos" or strongmen.

The ad was commissioned by Priorities USA, the country's largest Democratic Super PAC, and will run on digital platforms in English and Spanish in Florida.

“From threatening reporters and militarizing the streets, to weaponizing the Justice Department to exact political vendettas, this administration's abuse of power is all too familiar to Latinos," said Daniela Martins, national press secretary for Priorities USA.

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"Donald Trump is acting like a caudillo. Priorities USA will not let his authoritarian tendencies go unchecked. Our ads will continue to tell the truth about his failed leadership and hold him accountable for his efforts to erode our democracy,” she added.

The ad opens with footage of medical professionals attending to the coronavirus pandemic and lines of people out of work.

"Our country is hurting. A hundred thousand dead. Millions out of work," says the voiceover. "We need a president. But Donald Trump is raging like an authoritarian."

The ad cuts to footage of Trump interspersed with Cuba's Fidel Castro and Venezuelan dictators Hugo Chávez and Nicolás Maduro.

"I have the right to do whatever I want," says Trump in a voiceover pulled from his speech last July at the Turning Point USA Teen Student Action Summit in Washington.

The ad's next sequence cuts between images of Latin American security forces acting violently against civilians and footage of American forces clearing Lafayette Square in Washington, D.C. on Monday.

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"Using the military to silence the people and the press," says the voiceover.

The voiceover is followed by the voice of retired Army General Wesley Clark, who earlier this week called the Lafayette Square incident, where protesters were cleared to make way for Trump to walk to St. John's church across from the White House, a "total misuse of the United States armed forces."

The voiceover then accuses Trump of "openly disregarding the Constitution," as the footage of violent security forces rages on.

"When someone is the president, the authority is total," says Trump, in footage from an April press conference at the White House.

"We’ve seen this before. We know how it ends," replies the voiceover, as the ad cuts to images of Castro and Chávez, both of whom stayed in power until their deaths.

"Eight more years or twelve more years," says Trump, a snippet of a speech in October when he said talk of staying in power beyond his constitutionally-mandated limit would "drive [his opponents] into the loony bin."

The ad, targeted mainly toward Hispanic voters of Cuban, Venezuelan and Nicaraguan descent, plays on the politics of those countries. Trump has sought to woo those voters. 

Priorities USA commissioned research from a top Democratic Hispanic pollster, Latino Decisions, to gauge whether Hispanic voters associated Trump's words and actions with authoritarianism.

"Our research for Priorities USA found a very clear association between Trump and the Latin American caudillo or strongman," said Matt Barreto, co-founder of Latino Decisions.

"Latinos increasingly view Trump as an authoritarian who does not make decisions in a democratic way, but more along the lines of a dictator," he added.

According to Barreto's research, 44 percent of Florida Hispanic voters said they view Trump's statement that he can "do whatever [he wants] as president" with major concerns, 13 percent with fairly major concerns, and 19 percent with some concerns.

Only six percent responded they had minor concerns about the statement, and nine percent said they had no real concerns.

Barreto said the statements resonated strongly with Hispanics of all national origins, but could prove decisive for voters with roots in Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela.

"This new survey confirms that Latino voters reject Trump's caudillo ways and this messaging will prove vital in turning Cuban, Venezuelan, Nicaraguan voters against Trump in 2020," said Barreto.