Critics say that an advertisement supporting Democrat gubernatorial candidate Antonio Villaraigosa is falsely claiming that former President Barack Obama endorsed his campaign.
The 15-second ad, called, “Heart,” shows Obama saying, “You know, at the heart of what [former Los Angeles] Mayor Villaraigosa is doing today, he’s fighting to make this country more equal and more just.”
The former commander-in-chief’s statement is followed by the narrator saying, “President Obama called him one of America’s finest mayors, endorsed by the L.A. Times,” and ends with “Antonio for governor.”
According to the Sacramento Bee‘s analysis, “[t]he ad gives the false impression that Obama has endorsed, or is supporting in some other way Villaraigosa in his campaign for governor.” The publication notes that “[w]hile Obama has praised Villaraigosa in the past, Obama spokeswoman Katie Hill said Obama hasn’t endorsed Villaraigosa or anyone else in the California governor’s race.”
The ad is paid for by a group called Families and Teachers for Antonio Villaraigosa for Governor 2018, which supports charter schools. Villaraigosa began supporting charter schools after he was elected as mayor of L.A. As Breitbart News noted last month, the race between Villaraigosa and frontrunner Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom is largely a proxy war over charter schools, with Newsom backing the teachers’ unions.
According to the Sacramento Bee, the committee has raised $17.4 million to help Villaraigosa’s name recognition in the crowded field of gubernatorial candidates.
However, Villaraigosa is struggling to maintain second place behind Newsom, amidst a strong challenge by Republican businessman John Cox.
A new poll released by USC Dornsife/LA Times shows Villaraigosa and Cox literally within one point of each other — well within the 4% margin of error — with Villaraigosa at 11 percentage points and Cox at 10. Newsom is at 21 percent support. State Treasurer John Chiang, a Democrat, is in fourth place with 6 percentage points, and Republican Assemblyman Travis Allen (R-Huntingon Beach) is in fifth place with 5 percent.
President Donald Trump recently endorsed Cox:
California finally deserves a great Governor, one who understands borders, crime and lowering taxes. John Cox is the man – he’ll be the best Governor you’ve ever had. I fully endorse John Cox for Governor and look forward to working with him to Make California Great Again!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 18, 2018
Cox did not vote for Trump. He voted for Libertarian Gary Johnson, a decision he has said he regrets.