It is a terrifying image stalking the subconscious of many Americans in the post-Sept. 11 world. And thanks to Tom Tancredo, the congressman from Colorado, Republican presidential candidate and anti-immigration crusader, it is now appearing on television sets across Iowa, with promises to expand to other states soon: A man in a hooded sweat shirt walks into a shopping mall, sets a heavy backpack beside a bench and walks away before it explodes.
Accompanying the shopping-mall scene (which is interspersed with images from terrorist bombings in Europe) is an opener from Tancredo himself, saying that "I approve this message because someone needs to say it," and then this voiceover, in an ominous-sounding baritone: "There are consequences to open borders beyond the 20 million aliens who have come to take our jobs. Islamic terrorists now freely roam U.S. soil, jihadists who froth with hate, here to do as they have in London, Spain, Russia. The price we pay for spineless politicians who refuse to defend our borders against those who come to kill."
That is followed by the sound of a loud explosion, and then these closing words on the screen: "Tancredo -- before it's too late."
That Tancredo is running in asterisk territory in presidential polls and being all but ignored as a single-issue candidate does not diminish the undeniable initial shock of the ad. Just as his campaign hoped, the ad has generated a flutter of attention for his flagging campaign and the issue it was built around, with Tancredo's allies in the immigration battle hailing him for his candor and others scorning the ad as cheap and blatant fearmongering. (The campaigns of three of Tancredo's chief rivals for the GOP nomination -- Mitt Romney, Rudolph W. Giuliani and John McCain -- all declined to comment on the ad.) (MORE)