Throughout her political career, Hillary Clinton has been criticized for not being "authentic" or "likable" enough. But in a new ad targeted at Latino voters in Nevada, the former Secretary of State showed an emotional, grandmotherly side, while also highlighting the real human effects of immigration policy.
In the clip, Clinton sits in front of a group of supporters in a Las Vegas classroom this past Sunday. (According to NBC News (opens in new tab), the moment happened in a journalist-free moment with young immigrants.) A little girl tells her that her parents "have a letter of deportation," and starts to choke up. "I'm scared they are going to be deported," she says. Clinton calls her up to sit on her lap, and she consoles her. "I'm going to do everything I can so you don't have to be scared," Clinton says, tearing up herself. "I'll do all the worrying, is that a deal?" The two then share a big hug.
The ad breaks the mold of a typical campaign commercial, and it succeeds at striking an emotional chord. Of course, as the New York Times (opens in new tab) notes, the ad makes no real factual claims about Clinton's immigration policy, and she never promises anything about her parents' specific case. In general, Clinton supports comprehensive immigration reform that would give undocumented immigrants a path to citizenship; so does her opponent, Sen. Bernie Sanders.
Even though Clinton and Sanders generally agree on immigration policy, the ad is a masterful way to show Clinton's softer side. It's crucial in a state like Nevada, where she's neck-and-neck (opens in new tab) with Sanders ahead of Saturday's caucuses. As someone who writes about politics for a living, it's hard to get genuinely emotional about a political campaign ad. After all, this little girl's story is being used to further someone's political career. But it's hard not to get choked up thinking about her real-life struggles and fears. Excuse me while I grab some tissues.
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Megan Friedman is the former managing editor of the Newsroom at Hearst. She's worked at NBC and Time, and is a graduate of Northwestern's Medill School of Journalism.
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