Hillary Clinton released her campaign's newest attack ad against Donald Trump, a brutal, minute-long reprisal of some of his most controversial statements as seen through the eyes of children. The sharply negative spot comes a day before Trump is expected to announce his vice-presidential running mate and several days before the Republican Party's convention.
We will soon lose count of every campaign ad in the 2016 presidential election, but on the eve of the major-party conventions, this new spot from the Hillary Clinton campaign stands out. The Washington Post noted the significance of the spot called "Role Models."
I'm not sure "sharply negative" is the appropriate phrase. It is, to be sure, brutal, but nearly the entire ad simply shows comments Donald Trump made publicly.
But it's the way in which the spot packages Trump's quotes that's so effective. Viewers see children watching television as some of Trump's more offensive and vulgar quotes fill the screen.
The minute-long ad ends with Clinton telling supporters, the night she wrapped up the Democratic nomination, "Our children and grandchildren will look back at this time -- at the choices we are about to make, the goals we will strive for, the principles we will live by -- and we need to make sure that they can be proud of us."
According to a press release from the campaign, the spot will be part of the Clinton campaign's media rotation in Virginia, Ohio, Colorado, New Hampshire, Iowa, Florida, Nevada, and North Carolina, in addition to cable and digital advertising.
In the larger context, it's been obvious for a while that the Clinton campaign has a non-traditional problem: what's the best way to go after a rival with so many flaws, it's difficult to know where to start. Do you go after Trump's inexperience? His ignorance? His brazen dishonesty? Do you target his bigotry? His private-sector failures? What about his radical ideas? And his affection for authoritarian dictators?
This ad is notable in its ability to push a more elemental theme: Donald J. Trump is an embarrassment.
Part of this is probably an antiquated idea, but there's something in the American tradition that says we should be able to admire and respect our president. There's something noble about wanting your kids to one day grow up and be like the powerful person in the Oval Office, leading the free world.
An ad like this one effectively encourages voters to ask themselves a rather a straightforward question: would you be proud of a President Trump? Would you want your kids to be more like him? Or would you be tempted to cover your children's ears whenever this guy opened his mouth?
Put another way, would Donald J. Trump's election fill you with pride or shame?
It's not the kind of question that usually comes up in a presidential election, but Americans aren't accustomed to having a major-party candidate on the ballot quite like this one.