LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — An Arkansas Democratic congressional candidate on Thursday denounced immigration attack mailers sent out by a Republican senator’s political action committee as “racist” and “fearmongering.”
Clarke Tucker, who is running against 2nd District Republican Rep. French Hill, said that the mailers are misleading and racist because they depict brown-skinned men with tattoos holding guns. The ads say Tucker is former Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s “handpicked” candidate and imply that both support open borders and would not stop MS-13 gang members from entering Arkansas.
The ads, which were sent by Republican Sen. Tom Cotton’s PAC, the Republican Majority Fund, say Tucker believes illegal immigration is “no crime at all.”
Tucker said the ads were “despicable politics of the past,” and that they are “fearmongering based on the color of someone’s skin. That’s the definition of racism.” He also said he would work to crack down on MS-13, a gang formed in Los Angeles in the 1980s by El Salvadoran refugees, and support policies to secure the border. The Trump administration often highlights MS-13 violence as evidence of poor immigration policies and weak border security.
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Hill has tried to link Tucker to the former Democratic speaker; Pelosi’s photos are shown in multiple television ads attacking Tucker. Tucker has said he would not support Pelosi for Democratic leader or speaker if Democrats regain control of the House, and called the mailers “disingenuous.”
“I’ve never had a conversation with Congresswoman Pelosi,” Tucker said, adding that he was not selected by Pelosi but by the voters of Arkansas.
But the PAC is defending the mailers, saying they depict pictures of MS-13 gang members.
“Nancy Pelosi handpicked Clarke Tucker because she knows that Tucker will put Pelosi back in power. That’s why a vote for Clarke Tucker is a vote for Nancy Pelosi and her agenda of open borders and sanctuary cities,” said James Arnold, a PAC spokesman, in a statement. “The Republican Majority Fund stands fully by its advertisements.”
Hill’s campaign declined to comment.
The race between Hill and Tucker has been surprisingly competitive in a traditionally red state, with Hill releasing a series of television ads attacking Tucker. But Hill’s campaign has about $1.6 million in cash on hand, nearly four times as much as Tucker’s.
Hill released a new television attack ad Wednesday, saying Tucker’s policies would bankrupt Social Security and Medicare. Tucker has said he would support a public Medicare program in which people could opt to join.
Vice President Mike Pence will headline a rally for Hill on Friday, which Tucker encouraged all voters to attend, saying it’s an opportunity to hear from a public official.
Follow Hannah Grabenstein on Twitter at www.twitter.com/hgrabenstein