WASHINGTON — Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is getting an assist from a Republican super PAC founded by a top strategist to former President George W. Bush.
American Crossroads is spending about $40,000 on an online advertisement that likens Sanders opponent Hillary Clinton to Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump when it comes to immigration policy. The ad is a mashup of brief and selectively edited Clinton and Trump comments, combined in a way to make it seem the two agree on immigration policy — including Trump's call to build a massive wall along the border with Mexico.
In fact, Trump and Clinton share widely divergent positions on immigration. Trump has called for the mass deportation of people living in the country illegally and a temporary ban on Muslims seeking to travel to and visit the United States. Clinton favors creating a pathway to citizenship for people in the U.S. illegally and wants to expand President Barack Obama's efforts to defer the deportation of millions of such people.
The ad shows her apparently endorsing a "barrier" with Mexico, but people in both parties have supported the existing sections of fencing and plans to expand them while opposing Trump's idea of a massive wall aimed at sealing the border completely.
The 30-second ad is subtitled in Spanish, helping make sure Latino voters pay attention in Nevada, where Democrats hold their presidential caucuses in a week.
The spot ends with the text: "You can't trust Hillary Clinton."
"When we put these issues out there to voters, Hillary Clinton has to deal with them," said American Crossroads spokesman Ian Prior. "And she is at her weakest when she has to explain herself."
Trust has emerged as a major issue for Clinton in her race with Sanders, with less than half the voters in New Hampshire's Democratic primary saying they found Clinton to be honest and trustworthy, while about 90 percent believed those qualities fit Sanders, according to exit polls.
This is the second American Crossroads ad during the Democratic primary. In January, the group put out a Wall Street-themed spot to Iowa voters. That one highlighted Clinton's speeches to big banks over the years and her vote to bail them out during the financial crisis. She was asked about the ad in interviews and during a Democratic debate.
"I think it shows how desperate the Republicans are to prevent me from becoming the nominee," Clinton said about American Crossroads' efforts in an interview on ABC. "I find that in a perverse way an incredibly flattering comment on their anxiety."
Several major Republican super political action committees are dabbling in the Democratic primary.
A group called Future 45 released an ad in the fall focused on Clinton's work as secretary of state, particularly in Libya, concluding with a narrator saying: "Responsible for a disaster. More threats. More war." Future 45 has spent tens of thousands of dollars on additional anti-Clinton ads and phone calls to primary voters. Hedge fund billionaires Paul Singer and Kenneth Griffin are among its funders.
A veterans group associated with billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch also has dinged Clinton in online ads.
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