Donald Trump’s 2020 campaign has used video clips of stock models from France, Brazil and Turkey in a series of advertisements purporting to show various Americans supporting the president’s re-election, according to a new report.
The videos, released in recent weeks by Mr Trump’s campaign, claim to show a woman identified as “Tracey From Florida,” “AJ from Texas” and “Thomas from Washington,” all seemingly expressing their support for the president.
“I could not ask for a better president,” a female voice says over slow-motion footage of the blonde smiling woman allegedly named “Tracey”.
The man named in the video as AJ looks into the camera as a male voice says, “Although I am a lifelong Democrat, I sincerely believe that a nation must secure its borders.”
The videos were all found to be stock footage clips during a review by the Associated Press, which published a report about the apparent gaffe on Tuesday night.
This isn’t the first time Mr Trump has used foreign footage in his political advertising to increase domestic support.
The president’s 2016 campaign once featured a clip in a television ad purporting to be from the US-Mexico border, showing droves of migrants flooding across the region. That footage was actually of migrants in Morocco, the Associated Press reported.
More recently, the president’s re-election campaign also used stock footage of a Tokyo storefront to tout Mr Trump’s support for local American businesses. That observation was first reported by Slate.
Other politicians have also used stock footage in past controversies, including Marco Rubio, the Florida senator who once ran an advertisement featuring scenes from Canada titled “Morning in America”.
Still, the issue has raised ethics concerns online from Mr Trump’s critics, who quipped that the ads are “not good optics for America First!” and just “as authentic as Trump’s promise to build a wall.”
“Whoever did this is probably 22 years old, and they’re going through pictures and thought, ‘This is a great picture,’” Fred Davis, a campaign consultant for several former Republican presidential candidates and former President George W Bush, told the AP.
“This is a great shot of Thomas from Washington,” he added. “It’s a shame it’s not Thomas from Washington.”
The models were not able to be contacted as Getty Images cited privacy concerns in declining to provide their identifications. The White House did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
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