Ohio Senate Candidate J.D. Vance asked Ohio voters if they “hate Mexicans” in a new political advertisement released Tuesday.
During the 30-second advertisement, Vance—the author of the book Hillbilly Elegy who is running as a Republican to replace outgoing Senator Rob Portman—slammed the media for calling people who want to build a wall at the southern border “racist.” But some opponents accused the advertisement itself of provoking racism toward Mexicans.
The advertisement, which has amassed more than 300,000 views on Twitter Tuesday afternoon, opens with Vance asking voters: “Are you a racist? Do you hate Mexicans?” before launching into his criticism of President Joe Biden’s immigration policy.
“Joe Biden’s open border is killing Ohioans, with more illegal drugs and more Democrat voters pouring into this country,” he said.
He added that the issue is “personal,” referring to his mother’s struggles with addiction. The topic of illegal drugs is a key issue in Ohio, one of the states hit hardest by the opioid epidemic.
Some, however, took to social media to criticize the advertisement as “racist.”
“Looks like JD Vance is first out of the gate with one of the more racist and xenophobic campaign ads you will ever see,” wrote author Peter Tinti.
“In a campaign marked by one shameless act after another desperately seeking traction, JD Vance releases an ad that starts with, ‘Are you a racist? Do you hate Mexicans?’ And ends with blaming the border for his mother’s long-term addictions,” wrote attorney Ron Filipkowski.
Others, however, defended the advertisement, including U.S. Representative Jim Banks, an Indiana Republican, who praised Vance as “the most articulate America First candidate in the USA.”
Former Donald Trump campaign adviser Steve Cortes wrote: “A fantastic message from America First warrior @JDVance1. Pay no attention to the smears of the Left and their complicit media allies. We have a country to save!”
Vance is running in the GOP primary against several other candidates including investment banker Mike Gibbons, former Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel and former Ohio GOP Chair Jane Timken. In the general election, whoever wins the general election is slightly favored, according to the Cook Political report, which classifies the race as “Lean Republican.” Head-to-head polls between Vance and Ryan show a close race.
A Redfield & Wilton Strategies poll from August showed Ryan narrowly winning by one percentage point among likely voters. A poll from Public Policy Polling released in March 2021 showed Vance up by 2 points.
A March poll from Fox News showed Vance in third place in the GOP primary, but the race could be shaken up by an endorsement from Trump. An Emerson College poll released in February showed that 62 percent of GOP voters would be more likely to vote for a candidate he endorses. Although Trump endorsed several senate candidates across the country, he has not yet endorsed a candidate in the Ohio primary.