Georgia candidate's ad says he'll round up 'criminal illegals' in his pickup
ATLANTA — A Georgia gubernatorial hopeful boasts of owning a pickup truck "in case I need to round up criminal illegals" in a new campaign ad released weeks after he caused a stir by featuring a shotgun in another spot.
Secretary of State Brian Kemp calls himself a "politically incorrect conservative" in the ad released Wednesday that appears aimed at answering — and riling up — his detractors. The Republican garnered strong criticism with an earlier campaign video released in late April in which he holds a shotgun and pretends to threaten a young man interested in his daughter.
Critics argue that Kemp is making light of gun violence and, in the new ad, advocating vigilante action against undocumented immigrants. Many of Kemp's supporters simply see the ads as humorous defenses of archetypal conservative symbols.
"I'm so conservative, I blow up government spending," Kemp says in the latest video, as an explosion fills the screen behind him. Kemp then holds up a gun "that no one is taking away" and revs a chain saw to "rip up some regulations."
"I got a big truck," he says as he slams the door on a pickup. "Just in case I need to round up criminal illegals and take 'em home myself."
"Yep, I just said that," Kemp then adds.
Kemp has emphasized that he would seek a strong deportation policy as governor. Only the federal government has the authority to deport people, though state and local law enforcement authorities can decide how they cooperate with their federal counterparts.
Stephanie Cho, executive director for Asian Americans Advancing Justice Atlanta, slammed Kemp's rhetoric in a statement.
"His ad is beyond anti-immigrant, as he quite literally threatens to abduct individuals," Cho said. "Georgia needs a governor who ... does not promote reckless vigilantism. There is no place for hate and fearful rhetoric toward any people."
Recent polling shows Kemp in second place in the crowded GOP primary. He trails behind Lt. Governor Casey Cagle and is locked in a battle for second — and a possible runoff spot — with former state Sen. Hunter Hill.