Donald Trump fans fresh controversy with first TV campaign ad

Republican frontrunner Donald Trump unveiled his first TV ad of the presidential election campaign, fanning fresh controversy by incorporating footage of migrants fleeing Morocco into a Spanish enclave.

The 30-second ad will be broadcast in Iowa and New Hampshire, costing $2 million a week ahead of the state's first-in-the-nation voting contests, his campaign said.

The commercial spotlights his call for a ban on Muslims entering the United States, pledge to crush the so-called Islamic State extremist group and promise to end illegal immigration from Mexico.

"The politicians can pretend it's something else but Donald Trump calls it radical Islamic terrorism, that's why he's calling for a temporary shutdown of Muslims entering the United States," says the voiceover.

"He'll quickly cut off the head of ISIS and take their oil," added the male speaker, referring to the extremists that allegedly inspired the couple responsible for the San Bernardino killings last month.

"And he'll stop illegal immigration by building a wall on our southern border that Mexico will pay for," he added, over footage that shows dozens of migrants streaming across a border.

But a fact-checking website gave the ad a "Pants on Fire" rating, saying the footage comes not from the Mexico-US border, but rather from Melilla, a small Spanish enclave thousands of miles across the Atlantic Ocean on Morocco's coast.

PolitiFact said it traced the footage to an Italian broadcast from May 2014 of people crossing the border from Morocco into Melilla and said RepubblicaTV attributed the video to the Spanish interior ministry.

Trump's campaign said the footage was "intentional and selected to demonstrate the severe impact of an open border" and the "very real threat" to America by not building a wall on the Mexican border.

"The biased mainstream media doesn't understand, but Americans who want to protect their jobs and their families do," it said.

Iowa votes first in the nation in the nomination race, on February 1, followed by New Hampshire eight days later.

"I am very proud of this ad. I don't know if I need it, but I don't want to take any chances," Trump said Monday.

The real estate tycoon, who is funding his campaign, has boasted of saving $35 million by spending no money on political television ads until now.

He has led the polls for months, using his bombastic and provocative style to dominate the media and drive coverage of the campaign.

He claims to have spent the least money of all the candidates and of still achieving "the best results," saying, "This is the kind of thinking the country needs."

Trump has previously run radio ads and will launch a new one this week featuring Kathryn Gates-Skipper, the first female Marine to serve in combat operations, his campaign said.

- AFP

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