DNC chair Tom Perez says Trump's new immigration ad is the President 'at his worst'
When asked Wednesday by CNN's Chris Cuomo for his reaction, Perez called the ad an example of Trump "fear mongering."
"This is distracting, divisive Donald at his worst," Perez told Cuomo on "Cuomo Prime Time."
The ad, tweeted by Trump on Wednesday afternoon, shows a Hispanic man bragging about killing police officers during a courtroom appearance and says Democrats want to allow more people like him into the country.
"This is fear mongering. They're hemorrhaging, Chris, on the health care issue. Health care is the number one issue in this country. ... They can't talk about those (issues) because they're on the wrong side."
"His dog whistle of all dog whistles is immigration. This has been Donald Trump's playbook for so long," Perez said, later adding that illegal southern border crossings have been at "their lowest levels since the 1970s."
The DNC chairman argued that the key to solving the immigration crisis is to work with the leaders of the migrants' home countries, but that Trump's hateful rhetoric against Latinos thwarted any constructive policymaking.
"The way you solve this problem is by building relationships with countries in the region. But when you demonize Latinos every day, you make it harder to solve these problems," Perez said. "That's why you see failures in immigration policy under this administration, because nobody wants to work with our country because you're constantly calling Mexicans 'thugs' and all these other atrocious names. That's why they can't do it."
CNN panelists Ana Navarro and Scott Jennings weighed in later on "Cuomo Prime Time."
Navarro called the new ad a continuation of a "tired, old playbook" dating back to 2016.
"It's just more of Donald Trump being Donald Trump," Navarro said. "To me it's such a tired, old playbook. This is what he did in 2016: fear mongering, division, sowing discord, demonizing immigrants. And it worked. That is why he is going back to it, because it worked."
When Cuomo asked Jennings why he liked the ad, Jennings replied, "I'm not surprised by the ad."
"These messages are basically what Donald Trump has been talking about since he first started running for president," he said, echoing Navarro's remarks. "I think the point he's trying to make is that the Republican Party is the party of border security and the Democratic Party, at least among some candidates and in some quarters, is the party of abolish (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) and open borders."
"It's not the message I would be closing a campaign on," Jennings later added, though he noted that "immigration does have high intensity scores in the polling for a lot of Republican voters."
Trump fills final days of midterms with false promises and divisive rhetoric
"Now this 'Bomb' stuff happens and the momentum greatly slows - news not talking politics. Very unfortunate, what is going on."
Give the man credit: He tweets exactly what he's thinking. He said it again on the White House lawn. "But we have to start the momentum again."
What's he doing to restart it?
He's throwing false promises up against the wall and seeing what sticks pre-election. He's stoking fear with a web ad that portrays immigrants as heinous criminals only the Democrats would let into the country. He threatens to defy the Constitution and end birthright citizenship through executive order (he can't do it by fiat). This, of course, from the same man who tweeted in 2012 -- after President Barack Obama issued an executive order on "Dreamers" -- calling such actions "major power grabs of authority."
How time flies.
Here's more of his eleventh-hour-not-happening campaign hits: He'll force Republicans to support keeping pre-existing conditions for health plans. (Is there a sign-up sheet somewhere? How can you run on repealing Obamacare while pledging to keep its central tenet?) Oh, and there's going to be a new tax cut for the middle class. (Um, Congress is out of session.) As for that ballooning deficit? Whatever.
And in what he believes is his most potent issue -- immigration -- he's now sending 5,200 troops to the border to protect Americans from a group of migrants referred to as the "caravan" ("invaders," as he and his news acolytes like to call them). So is the administration closing the southern border? Spokeswoman Sarah Sanders would talk only about "options" on the table. But wait: These units are not allowed to use the military to enforce domestic law. And the migrants are weeks away from arriving at the border, when many plan to seek asylum.
But the election is just a week away.
The President probably thought things were going swimmingly, as he made great headway with his message about the migrant group, which he said included some "gang members and some very bad people," not to mention dangerous people from the Middle East. Add that to the Justice Brett Kavanaugh fallout, and he had blame enough to spread on the Democrats -- gin up his base, and maybe even deflate Democratic enthusiasm.
It really all came together when he blamed Democratic mobs for attacking Republicans. He even threw out the tried and true (actually false) claims of voter fraud, admonishing his supporters to watch out for it.
The table was set.
After the pipe bombs came the horrific shootings at a Pittsburgh synagogue, which claimed the lives of 11 people. The country was in shock. The President read appropriate remarks from a prompter, then went to a pre-planned rally where he announced he might tone it down -- right before entertaining chants of "lock her up" and calling members of the media "foolish and very stupid people."
Two days later, he proceeded again to call the media the enemy of the people and couldn't quite get why that was not an appropriate thing.
Trump needs his enemies. It's his oxygen. He had it all planned, attacking Democrats while putting out proposal after proposal to please his base that he knew would go nowhere.
But the world intervened -- and stopped his precious momentum, confusing the President. He wants to punch, but the ropes surround him everywhere.
Albright, Powell express disgust over incendiary rhetoric, Trump policies
Appearing together before a packed arena at Creighton University, in Omaha, Nebraska, as part of a Presidential Lecture Series celebrating the school's 140th anniversary, the two former top diplomats expressed disgust over the country's current hot political rhetoric.
"We have come to live in a society based on insults, on lies and on things that just aren't true. It creates an environment where deranged people feel empowered," said Powell, who served under Republican President George W. Bush.
"I'm deeply troubled by the direction we're going," said Albright, who served under President Bill Clinton, a Democrat. "I'm a naturalized American citizen. I came when I was 11 years old. I'm very upset about the image we're projecting abroad."
Albright cited the massacre of 11 Jewish worshipers at a Pittsburgh synagogue over the weekend and the coordinated attack on Trump critics from a Florida man who allegedly mailed pipe bombs.
"There's no way to describe what has been one of the most disappointing, horrible and un-American set of activities that's taken place. There are divisions in our society that have come about as a result of technology and the downside of globalization, but we need leaders who look for common ground and don't exacerbate it," Albright said.
"We've seen incidents before but now, we've come to live in a society based on insults and attacking almost every facet of American life," Powell said. "All of our public officials, not just the President, need to take time to talk to one another, across the aisles."
Both criticized the Trump administration of promoting an immigration policy that demonizes those seeking a better life in the US.
"My parents came from Jamaica on banana boats and raised two children here, that one became a teacher and the other had success as a soldier. You can do that in America," he said. "We are giving that image up and we shouldn't. It's the strongest message we give the rest of the world."
Albright, who was born in Czechoslovakia, escaped the Nazis with her family just after they invaded her birth country. She later fled to America with her family as an 11-year-old refugee and became a naturalized US citizen, and later learned that she had 26 Jewish relatives killed in the Holocaust.
"I'll never forget what it was like to come to America, on the S.S. America, past the Statue of Liberty," Albright said. "One of the things I loved to do was hand out people's naturalization certificates. I remember doing it July 4, 2000, at Monticello, Thomas Jefferson's house. And I figured, why not? I have Thomas Jefferson's job. And I remember giving a certificate to a man, a refugee, who said, 'Can you believe I'm a refugee and the Secretary of State is handing me my naturalization certificate?' I said, 'Can you believe the Secretary of State is a refugee?'"
Both diplomatic leaders took offense to Trump's characterizing a caravan of refugees currently traveling from Central America making their way through southern Mexico as "criminals," "terrorists" and "unknown Middle Easterners."
"These are hungry people trying to find a better life in America. That's what you find in America. And now we're seeing the separation of families again. This is a disgrace," Powell said. "I don't see any terrorists. I don't see any bombs going off. I'm not saying we let everybody in, you don't just open the door. But we should avoid language like this and see how we can solve this problem."
Albright said Trump's stance is "un-American."
"I wish our Congress would get its act together and pass some comprehensive immigration legislation," she lamented.
At one point, Powell used the President's own slogan to urge immigration reform.
"We were great then, we're great now, and we'll be greater in the future because of those immigrants who make us greater still," Powell said.
And on the President's renewed call to issue an executive order to end the automatic right for citizenship for those born in the US, Powell said dryly, "Trump needs to re-read the 14th Amendment to the Constitution. He doesn't have the authority to rewrite birthright citizenship."
CORRECTION: This story has been updated to correct the details of how Albright and her family came to the US and when she found out that her relatives were killed in the Holocaust.
Trump attacks Paul Ryan, says he 'knows nothing' about birthright citizenship
The comments come a day after Ryan threw cold water on the President's assertion that he can use executive action to end the constitutional guarantee of citizenship to anyone born in the United States.
Ryan told a Kentucky radio station Tuesday that "you cannot end birthright citizenship with an executive order," following remarks from the President indicating that Trump believes he can do just that, though many legal scholars disagree.
On Wednesday, the President tweeted, "Paul Ryan should be focusing on holding the Majority rather than giving his opinions on Birthright Citizenship, something he knows nothing about! Our new Republican Majority will work on this, Closing the Immigration Loopholes and Securing our Border!"
An aide to Ryan declined to comment to CNN on the President's tweet.
Separately, a senior GOP aide defended Ryan when asked about Trump's tweet.
"This is a great way to screw up the message a week before the election," this aide told CNN. "First the birthright comment itself and now attacking the top Republican in Congress who is trying to save our majority."
Trump repeated his claim that he can eliminate birthright citizenship via executive order later Wednesday, although he said his preference would be for Congress to pass legislation ending that constitutional right.
"I believe you can have a simple vote in Congress," Trump told reporters as he left the White House. "You can do it through an executive order."
"I'd rather do it through Congress because that's permanent, but we can certainly do it through -- I really (believe) we can do it through executive order," he added, noting he had discussed the issue with legal scholars.
The President referenced an immigration executive order signed by his predecessor -- the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy he had sought to undo. Trump suggested that if former President Barack Obama could execute such an order, he could end birthright citizenship through executive action as well. Trump and other Republicans at the time decried Obama's move as defying federal law.
"If President Obama can get DACA approved ... we can do this by executive order," Trump said.
Ryan, who is leaving Congress at the end of his term in January, has been helping to campaign for Republicans as the midterms approach, including both vulnerable incumbents and new candidates in competitive races. When he spoke to radio station WVLK on Tuesday, he was in Kentucky campaigning for Republican Rep. Andy Barr, who is trying to hold onto his House seat.
During the interview on Tuesday, Ryan quickly sought to emphasize common ground with the President on immigration policy, despite saying that it was not possible to end birthright citizenship via executive order.
"Where we obviously totally agree with the President is getting at the root issue here, which is unchecked illegal immigration," Ryan said. "We -- House Republicans and this President -- are in total agreement on the need to stop illegal immigration, to secure our border and fix our laws."
The midterm elections, where Republicans are at risk of losing their majority in the House, take place next Tuesday.
Republicans are viewed as more likely to retain the Senate than the House and Democratic leaders are projecting confidence that they will win the lower chamber of Congress.
House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi predicted on Tuesday night that Democrats will take back the House, saying during an interview with late-night host Stephen Colbert, "We will win."
This isn't the first time Trump has lashed out at Ryan.
During the 2016 presidential campaign, Trump called Ryan a "very weak and ineffective leader" after Ryan told fellow Republicans he would no longer defend Trump after the infamous "Access Hollywood" tape surfaced in which Trump could be heard bragging about groping women.