In an ad to run on Fox News, Julián Castro accuses President Trump of inciting racism leading to the El Paso shooting that killed 22 and wounded dozens more. In the spot, the presidential candidate looks into the camera and addresses Trump directly.
The former Housing and Urban Development secretary stands in an empty building and cites Trump’s own words — using a crude slur to disdain some countries, telling U.S. congresswomen of color to go back “to the countries” from which they came, and calling immigrants “rapists.”
“As we saw in El Paso, Americans were killed because you stoked the fire of racists,” Castro admonishes in the half-minute video. “Innocent people were shot down because they look different from you.
“Because they look like me. They look like my family,” he says, his voice somber.
The shooting suspect had published an anti-immigrant screed echoing Trump’s “invasion” language about immigrants, and told police he drove the 10 hours to an El Paso Walmart to specifically target Mexicans, according to authorities.
“Words have consequences,” Castro says, and then in Spanish: “Ya basta.” Enough.
The ad, released online today, is set to air three times on Fox News on Wednesday, according to Castro’s campaign, starting with a morning slot on “Fox & Friends,” a show the president frequently praises. It will air in the Bedminster, N.J., area, where the president is expected to be for the day. The campaign spent $2,775 to air the ad and plans to promote it on social media to make sure the president sees it, said Sawyer Hackett, Castro’s national press secretary.
Castro, the only Latino among the two dozen prominent Democratic candidates vying to face Trump in 2020, wants the president to hear that his rhetoric targeting immigrants and people of color are to blame for a rise in violent extremism, Hackett said.
The El Paso shooting was the deadliest attack on the Latino community in the U.S. Since then, many Latinos have expressed fear and concern for their safety.
Castro is not alone in placing at least some blame on Trump. El Paso residents, officials and other presidential candidates including El Paso native Beto O’Rourke have said the president’s words have inflamed hatred and incited violence. A survey taken after the shootings found that more than two-thirds of Americans polled said racism and white nationalism play a role in mass shootings, and a majority of Democrats also placed blame on the president.
Following the attack, Trump visited El Paso and Dayton, Ohio, where nine people were killed the same weekend in another mass shooting. He said separately in a prepared speech that “hate has no place in America. In one voice, our nation must condemn racism, bigotry and white supremacy.”
The ad also comes after Trump attacked Castro and his twin brother, Rep. Joaquin Castro, on Twitter on the same day that the president visited El Paso. The Texas congressman was facing criticism from Republicans after he publicized already public information about San Antonio residents who donated to Trump’s reelection effort.
“I don’t know who Joaquin Castro is other than the lesser brother of a failed presidential candidate (1%) who makes a fool of himself every time he opens his mouth,” Trump wrote. “Joaquin is not the man that his brother is, but his brother, according to most, is not much.”
The ad, Hackett said, is Castro “standing up for his family, for his values, for his community, at a time when this president has tried to scapegoat them.”