Dr. Manny Sethi’s television ad criticizing illegal immigration triggered prominent Democrats nationwide into a torrent of anger this past week, and many of them took to Twitter to show their disgust.
Sethi and former U.S. Ambassador to Japan Bill Hagerty are running for the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate to replace Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), who is retiring. The Republican primary will be held in August 2020, and the winner will be a heavy favorite to win the general election in November 2020.
A congresswoman from Washington state along with a New York Times op-ed writer were among some of the progressives speaking out against Sethi’s commercial.
In the ad, Sethi, whose parents emigrated to the United States many years ago, challenged anyone to call him a racist for speaking out against illegal immigration.
Jenalyn Sotto, an official with the National Women’s Law Center, criticized the commercial perhaps more harshly than anyone else.
“Manny Sethi’s ‘illegal immigrant invasion’ rhetoric as a Brown man is absolution porn for white racists and dog whistling for naturalized citizens and green card holders who are conditioned to believe that if they don’t call out unauthorized immigration, they’ll lose their status,” Sotto tweeted Thursday night.
U.S. Rep. Pramila Jayapal, a Democrat representing Washington’s Seventh Congressional District, said on Twitter that Sethi’s ad “horrified” her.
“It buys into the same old racist GOP tropes, and does not reflect MY values as an immigrant and proud, patriotic American,” Jayapal wrote.
Washington, D.C. attorney Deepak Gupta, meanwhile, called Sethi’s commercial “one of the most repulsive political ads I’ve seen.” New York Times op-ed contributor Wajahat Ali tweeted that Sethi’s ad is indeed racist and he also said “Manny, they’ll never love you. But you’ll figure that out eventually.”
Sethi’s campaign chairman Chris Devaney addressed the criticism in an emailed statement to The Tennessee Star Thursday.
“The Twitter and Facebook attacks from the left have been disgusting, but not surprising. It’s just another display by the radicals of their intolerance — people who want to silence anyone with whom they disagree,” Devaney said.
“On the other hand, conservatives across our state have been very supportive. Dr. Manny looks forward to sharing his message about tackling the broken immigration system, supporting President Trump and building the Wall.”
Sethi’s ad has aired throughout Tennessee, and it also aired in Washington, D.C. during Tuesday night’s Democratic presidential debate.
Democratic pollster Amanda Hoey said on Twitter that Sethi and his staff members wasted campaign money airing the ad outside of the Volunteer State.
To that, Devaney said the following:
“Dr. Manny Sethi is the only Republican willing to say the truth about illegal immigration, and we wanted to make sure national Democrats and the Washington establishment know that Manny will work with President Trump to protect the American Dream,” Devaney said.
“In terms of our tactics, I’m not really concerned about what some Democrat pollster has to say about our campaign. I’ll put our team’s track record up against theirs’ any day. These are the same Democrat pollsters that promised you President Hillary Clinton and Senator Phil Bredesen.”
As The Star reported Wednesday, Sethi’s mother appeared in the ad and spoke about how she and her husband spent seven years following U.S. law and emigrating to this country legally. She said she wonders why people who speak out against illegal immigration get called racist.
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