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Pro-Donald Trump group debuts ad about NFL team's racist mascot

Filed Under: Law | National | Politics | Sports
More on: 2016, 4th circuit, democrats, donald trump, elections, hillary clinton, mascots, nfl, racism, republicans, supreme court, tim kaine, trademarks, virginia
     
   

Rebuilding America Now on YouTube: Redskins

A political action committee that supports Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump is running a last-minute, battleground-state ad in favor of the Washington NFL team's racist mascot.

The Rebuilding America Now ad debuted on television stations in Virginia, a key state in the election, on Sunday. It stokes fears about a possible name change for the team by linking Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton to the effort.

"Hillary's priorities are not your priorities," the ad proclaims to an all-White, all-male group of football fans whose game day was ruined by the mere appearance of Clinton on their television screen.

Clinton indeed called the NFL team's name "insensitive" in an interview on Fusion back in 2014. That view is also shared by President Barack Obama, prominent Native activists, nearly every major Indian organization and tribes across the nation.


The Bon Secours Washington Redskins Training Center is located in Richmond, Virginia. Photo by Washington Redskins

But with 13 electoral votes at stake, both campaigns are making heavy plays for the vote in a state where the NFL team enjoys a large fan base and where it maintains a training facility in Richmond, the capital. Polls have consistently shown Virginia leaning toward Clinton, according to RealClearPolitics, an outcome Trump doesn't want to accept.

"We are going to win. We are going to have one of the great victories of all time. Of all time," Trump said at a late-night rally in Leesburg in the northern part of the state on Sunday.

Trump himself defended the NFL team's racist imagery in an interview with The New York Times last year. He believes the the name should be left up to the team's owner, Dan Snyder, who has vowed he will "never" change it.

"I know Indians that are extremely proud of that name,” Trump told the Times. "They think it’s a positive."


Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and her running mate, Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia, on the campaign trail. Photo by Hillary for America

Young Native activists don't agree with that assessment and they secured a big victory in 2014 when the team's trademarks were found to be disparaging and were canceled by a federal board. The issue is now being litigated in the federal courts, incidentally, in Virginia.

The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals was due to hear the case in Richmond in December but has since agreed to delay arguments until the U.S. Supreme Court resolves a closely-related trademark dispute. The Supreme Court is still down one member and the next president will play a big role in shaping its future.

The Change the Mascot movement has drawn support from members of Congress. although Clinton's running mate, Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Virginia), declined to sign onto a 2014 Senate Democratic letter that called on the NFL to take a stand. But just like Clinton, he believes the name should go away.

"I’m not the owner, but if I were the owner I think I’d make the decision to find a better name," Kaine told a Virginia radio station as he explained why he didn't join the letter. He is spending Monday campaigning in his home state, where he once served as governor and as mayor of Richmond.

Rebuilding America Now is described as a super political action committee that can raise and spend unlimited amounts of money on the election. It does not have direct ties to Trump's campaign but its mission is to elect the real estate mogul secure victory on November 8.

The PAC was founded in June. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, it has raised $20.3 million and spent $19.2 million as of October 19.

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