Tim Murphy

Tim Murphy

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Tim Murphy is a senior reporter at Mother Jones. Email him with tips and insights at tmurphy@motherjones.com.

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Sad!

Mike Pape is a Republican running for Congress in Kentucky's first district. On Wednesday, he released the worst ad of the 2016 campaign. For similar reasons, it might also be the best ad of the 2016 campaign.

Pape's prospective district gave a combined 75 percent of the vote to Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, and Pape seems to have taken that message to heart. The ad features three men and one very bad mustache cutting through the US border fence in order to get to America, so they can stop Trump, Cruz, and Pape from building the wall and repealing Obamacare. Because you can't cut down a wall with a wire-cutter, my friend.

Let's break it down:

0:00

This is not what the border looks like. Speaking of borders! Kentucky's first district includes the famous Kentucky Bend, which was separated from the rest of the state by a surveying error and is accessible only by driving through Tennessee. This is what happens when you neglect your borders, folks.

0:03

The guy on the right has a flashlight. Smart. But why does the guy in the middle have a lantern? Did they rob a stagecoach?

0:03

These guys have been talking about Republican politics for hours, maybe days, and no one thought to ask the guy on the left why his shirt said "Stop Pape" until now.

0:12

You never know when you'll need duct tape. For instance, if the adhesive on your mustache starts to wear off.

0:20

Let's not overstate the quality of the acting in this production, but this moment represents a rare bright moment. We see a look of genuine surprise when this man is told that Pape will help Cruz repeal Obamacare. (We've previously been told he'll help Trump build the wall, which is confusing; are Cruz and Trump going to share the presidency?) Perhaps, in the hopes of eliciting a more authentic expression during filming, the director told the actor beforehand that Pape was for single-payer. This calls to mind the story about why Alan Rickman looked so surprised at the end of Die Hard.

The ad has subtitles throughout, but "vámonos" is the only Spanish word that is ever translated to English.

0:24

So at the end of the ad, the camera pulls back to reveal that Mike Pape, candidate for Congress, has been right there all along, and continues to talk to the camera even as the ostensible Mexicans sneak into the country. It's tough to figure out who is worse at their jobs here. The tough-talking Pape turns his back on the border fence and lets people cut a hole in it. But the three migrants have explicitly come to the United States to stop Pape, only to walk right past him. You're all fired.

Donald Trump's political director told a room full of Republican bigwigs on Thursday that if the tower-dwelling steak magnate is the party's nominee for president, he will redraw the electoral map in November. Per the New York Times:

As the Republicans ate oysters in a dim, stuffy conference room overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, Mr. [Rick] Wiley walked them through a slide show that predicted victory for Mr. Trump not just in swing states with large Hispanic populations like Nevada, Colorado and Florida, but in states that Republicans have not captured since the 1980s: Pennsylvania, Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Connecticut.

This sounds crazy because it is, but it's not a kind of crazy that's unique to Trump. Republican nominees (or prospective nominees) always say this.

In a video for Republican donors in June 2008, John McCain's campaign manager, Rick Davis, showed off a map highlighting states McCain had in the bag and states that might be in play. The list of states that were Republican locks included three that Barack Obama ultimately won: Indiana, North Carolina, and Virginia. The list of states that McCain's campaign considered battlegrounds included California and Connecticut. Oh, and Pennsylvania, Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin.

Okay, that was 2008. It was a long time ago. We didn't have self-driving cars or even face-swap back then. But in 2012, Republican nominee Mitt Romney again proposed to redraw the electoral map by flipping Midwestern states the party hadn't won since the Ronald Reagan era. His campaign spent much of the final week of the race in Pennsylvania. It considered Wisconsin the new Ohio. In October, Romney and his backers went on the air in Michigan and Minnesota.

Trump is out of step with his party's previous standard-bearers on many things, but when it comes to overstating his electoral chances in blue states, he talks a lot like the establishment.

Donald Trump is counting on a hometown boost in Tuesday's New York primary showdown against Ted Cruz. The Texas senator has taken heat from prominent Republicans there, such as Rep. Peter King and ex-Mayor Rudy Giuliani, for his comments about "New York values" and his campaign positions. ("Any New Yorker who even thinks of voting for Ted Cruz should have their head examined," King told an interviewer last week.) When Cruz visited the Bronx, he was heckled repeatedly.

But perhaps no candidate has done more to offend the sensibilities of New Yorkers over the years than Trump, a tabloid fixture who was once sued by the Department of Justice for housing discrimination in Brooklyn and Queens and who spent $85,000 on advertisements demanding the state "bring back the death penalty" after the arrest of the (wrongfully convicted) Central Park Five.

Trump sought to use his influence in the city on more pedestrian matters, too. In a 1985 letter, Trump complained to then-Mayor Ed Koch about the blight of hot-dog vendors leaving ketchup and mustard stains on his sidewalk.

Dear Ed:

While I usually agree with your decisions and philosophy (except as they concern me), I cannot understand how you can allow once one of the truly great streets of America, Fifth Avenue, to be overrun by peddlars [sic] and food vendors. They have created such a blight that shoppers and visitors alike are appalled to see the decline of this historic avenue. Having ketchup and mustard splattered all over the sidewalk by vendors who "couldn't care less" is disgraceful. I only wish I had their political muscle—they really need it in order to keep this outrage going.

I know that you must have your reasons and also know that you won't change your mind, but it is a shame. As the filthy food carts come in, the Guccis, Jourdans, et cetera will leave, and with them both prestige and taxes will be lost to the City forever.

After signing off, he added one last shot. "P.S. The new 'act' on Fifth Avenue is the humongous vegetable stand which operates at Fifth Avenue and 57th Street," Trump wrote. "It does wonders for increasing the value of real estate on Bond Street in London and the Champs Elysses [sic] in Paris."

The correspondence with Koch was included in the personal papers of former New York Times executive editor A.M. Rosenthal at the New York Public Library.

Trump's beef with street vendors was not a one-time thing. In The Art of the Deal, his best-selling memoir, he lamented the "peddlers" who were "degrading" Fifth Avenue. "I learned a lesson from Walter Hoving," he wrote, referring to another New York developer. "I now employ some very large security people who make absolutely sure that the street in front of Trump Tower is kept clean, pristine, and free of peddlers."

Update: This was a really longstanding beef. The New York Daily News reported that Trump also complained about the Fifth Avenue food vendors in 2004 to then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Evidently the problem wasn't fixed.

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