Anti-Gillespie ad of truck chasing kids pulled after New York City terrorist attack

Democratic gubernatorial candidate, Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam (left) speaks at the Dar Alnoor Islamic Community Center in Manassas, Virginia. Republican gubernatorial candidate Ed Gillespie (right) speaks during a Tea Party debate.

AP Photo/Steve Helber

A highly controversial ad attacking Republican candidate for Virginia governor Ed Gillespie and featuring a white man in a truck chasing down minority children has been pulled after Tuesday's terrorist attack in New York City.

The TV ad, funded by the Latino Victory Fund, has been polarizing since its release Monday. It featured a white man with a confederate flag, "don't tread on me" license plate and an Ed Gillespie bumper sticker on his truck chasing down minority kids in a residential neighborhood. The children then wake up from the nightmare, and adults watch footage of white nationalists with torches in Charlottesville.

"Is this what Donald Trump and Ed Gillespie mean by the American dream?" says the ad in conclusion. 

The Washington Post's editorial board, which has endorsed Northam, slammed the TV spot, saying it had "no place" in the Virginia governor's race.

"There is no question that if this were a race to the bottom, Mr. Gillespie would be the winner, having spent millions of dollars on ads that use specious claims and appeals to race and ethnicity to scare and divide," the Washington post editorial board wrote. "That he has doubled down in recent days with deceptive ads trying to paint Mr. Northam as an enabler of child predators underscores the lack of character that has marked his campaign. It is one reason we endorsed Mr. Northam." 

"But just because Mr. Gillespie has resorted to gutter tactics doesn't give others leave to do the same," the editorial board continued. "The Latino Victory Fund ad was vile. Among other faults, it glossed over the fact that Mr. Gillespie condemned the white-supremacist violence in Charlottesville far more directly than did President Trump."

The TV ad came days after a political mailer linked Gillespie to the white nationalists who marched in Charlottesville. Charlottesville's Daily Progress denounced the ad in an editorial, while Northam stood by it. 

The Northam campaign and anti-Gillespie groups have tried to tie Gillespie to President Trump and to some extent, to the deadly events in Charlottesville. Confederate statues have become a hot-button issue in the race. Gillespie has argued that the statues should stay where they are, in their appropriate historical context, while Northam has called for the monuments' removal, saying he "personally" thinks they should be in museums but would leave that up to localities. 

Northam is besting Gillespie in the polls ahead of Tuesday's election, although that lead has narrowed. A Real Clear Politics aggregation of recent polling shows Northam up by an average of 3.6 points in recent polls. 

  • Kathryn Watson

    Kathryn Watson is a politics reporter for CBS News Digital.