ATLANTA - A gubernatorial campaign bus tour is drawing sharp criticism from some people across metro area.
Republican Michael Williams unveiled his "Deportation Bus" on Tuesday and some critics say it promotes racism.
The Williams campaign told Channel 2 political reporter Richard Elliot that they are taking it to so-called sanctuary cities across north Georgia on Wednesday.
The mayor of one of those cities told Elliot that he has alerted his police department because he fears immigration vigilantes.
“I’m not just going to track them and watch them roam around our state. We’re going to put them on this bus and send them home,” Williams said.
The bus is part of Williams’ new campaign ad, which started circulating on the internet over the weekend.
A Georgia gubernatorial candidate's campaign ad bus is raising eyebrows around Metro Atlanta. We're getting reaction from the campaign and others. pic.twitter.com/GKNlYg99Qs— Richard Elliot (@RElliotWSB) May 15, 2018
In the ad, he stands in front of his deportation bus and talks about his immigration plan.
People sent photos to Channel 2 Action News has the bus drove through Hall County on Sunday.
Elliot went to Gainesville on Tuesday to ask the candidate himself about it and about the critics who say the bus and ad are racist.
“That’s not correct. What this is, is a bus that is focusing on people that have entered our country illegally,” Williams told Elliot.
The deportation bus tour plans to drive through Clarkston, which is a self-described sanctuary city.
Its mayor, Ted Terry, told Elliot that while the tour is free to campaign there, he’s worried that immigration vigilantes may try to round up his residents and bring them to the bus.
Terry said he has put his police department on alert.
“I’ve met Michael Williams before. I think he’s a nice guy. He’s taking bad advice from his campaign consultants and he shouldn’t do it,” Terry said.
Channel 2 political analyst Bill Crane said all of this is designed to generate buzz for the Williams’ campaign in the final days before the primary.
Crane said candidates have to play to their base and immigration is a hot-button issue.
“Every single vote’s importance is magnified, and those most regular voters are Republican activists, and they are Conservative people who might consider attending a local county or state convention,” Crane said.
Williams told Elliot that the amount of criticism surprised him, but he said he’s gotten a lot of support from people in Georgia and across the country.