CNN’s Jake Tapper on Sunday repeatedly confronted Republican National Committee chairwoman Ronna McDaniel over her refusal to condemn President Donald Trump’s racist ad that falsely blames Democrats for allowing a cop killer into the country.
McDaniel danced around Tapper’s questions on whether she took issue with the ad, paid for by Trump’s re-election campaign, that has drawn backlash from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.
“It’s factually inaccurate and it’s racially incendiary,” Tapper said on the “State Of The Union” he hosts. “You don’t have any issue with that?”
Ignoring the premise of the question, McDaniel stumbled momentarily and then responded, “I have an issue with our immigration system that’s not being fixed, and Democrats won’t work with the president, and we have caravans coming.”
Trump first shared the anti-immigration ad on Wednesday, which links the Central American migrant caravan bound for the U.S. southern border to undocumented immigrant Luis Bracamontes, the Mexican citizen who killed two police officers in the U.S. in 2014. The ad aims to stoke fears ahead of the midterm elections.
The controversial ad attacks Democrats for allowing Bracamontes to enter the country, though he was first deported during President Bill Clinton’s administration. He returned, was deported a second time under President George W. Bush’s administration, but again re-entered the U.S.
Tapper told McDaniel that he “completely” agrees that immigration reform is needed, before drilling in again on the ad’s misleading rhetoric.
“President Trump is inaccurately ― inaccurately ― blaming [Democrats] for putting a cop killer, for letting him into the country,” Tapper said. He noted that “the last time he came into the country was under” Bush, a Republican.
McDaniel responded, “Regardless, we don’t want him in the country. He killed police. That’s not good.”
Tapper tried again to question the GOP leader about the ad’s accuracy. “He’s a monster,” Tapper said. “And he was sentenced to death. And good riddance. But was his presence in the United States the Democrats’ fault?”
“It’s a systemic failure ― ” McDaniel replied, prompting Tapper to interrupt, “Yes! That’s true. It’s a systemic failure. That’s my point. It’s a systemic failure. Democrats and Republicans ― that’s the failure. But [Trump] blamed it all on Democrats.”
McDaniel then attempted to pivot the discussion toward the Trump administration’s handling of the country’s opioid abuse epidemic, which didn’t go unnoticed by Tapper.
“I know you want to change the subject,” he said.
CNN on Saturday confirmed it had declined to air the ad after Donald Trump Jr., the president’s eldest son, criticized the network over its decision hours earlier.
“CNN has made it abundantly clear in its editorial coverage that this ad is racist,” CNN Communications tweeted. “When presented with an opportunity to be paid to take a version of this ad, we declined. Those are the facts.”