A New Ad Boosts ICE and the Border Wall and Demonizes the Left. It’s From a Senate Democrat.

Joe Donnelly even declares, “Peace through strength.”

The latest ad in Indiana’s competitive Senate race features promises to fund President Trump’s border wall, oppose “socialized medicine,” and thwart the plans of “radical leftists” who want to abolish Immigrations and Customs Enforcement.

These are all common talking points for Republicans—but the catch here is that the candidate running the ad is a Democrat, Sen. Joe Donnelly. 

Donnelly, a Democratic incumbent in a state that went for Trump by 19 points in 2016, is in a delicate position as he tries to hold off a challenge from Republican businessman Mike Braun. Though the senator has been stressing his bipartisan credentials all year, the ad attracted some attention on social media for being one of Donnelly’s more blatant attempts to side with President Trump and win over Republican voters. 

The video opens with clips of Medicare for All protesters, as a voiceover ominously warns that “socialists want to turn healthcare over to the government.” “Over my dead body,” Donnelly says. He later declares, “I support ICE” and and touts his support for military spending. He closes by quoting President Ronald Reagan’s mantra: “Peace through strength.” 

The ad is Donnelly’s latest effort to emphasize his independence in order to hang on to his seat. “I don’t work for any political party,” he said in another video earlier this year. “I’m the hired help.” He often mentions that he’s voted with President Trump 62 percent of the time. And though several other red state incumbents have tried to take a tough stance on immigration, it’s still relatively unusual for a Democrat to say outright that they support funding Trump’s border wall. 

Though Donnelly has mostly tried to distance himself from his party, Braun used the candidates’ first debate last week to attack the senator for voting against the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. Unsurprisingly, the candidates spent much of the debate competing to see who could be more pro-Trump. 

The latest polls show Donnelly and Braun in a dead heat


The more we thought about how MoJo's journalism can have the most impact heading into the 2020 election, the more we realized that so many of today's stories come down to corruption: democracy and the rule of law being undermined by the wealthy and powerful for their own gain.

So we're launching a new Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption. We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We'll publish what we find as a major series in the summer of 2020, including a special issue of our magazine, a dedicated online portal, and video and podcast series so it doesn't get lost in the daily deluge of breaking news.

It's unlike anything we've done before and we've got seed funding to get started, but we're asking readers to help crowdfund this new beat with an additional $500,000 so we can go even bigger. You can read why we're taking this approach and what we want to accomplish in "Corruption Isn't Just Another Scandal. It's the Rot Beneath All of Them," and if you like how it sounds, please help fund it with a tax-deductible donation today.

We Recommend


Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.


Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.