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Blog 3: Political Campaigns

Political campaigns have very much changed since Nixon’s 1960 campaign. Just as we read about, Nixon’s 1960 and 1968 campaign were different, with the 1968 campaign trying to “package and sell” him as a person/president. In the 1968 campaign Nixon wanted to make himself more personable, and also refused to do a debate, since the debates ruined him last time. This 1968 campaign was all about selling Nixon as a person, and put him in controlled situations only. The website The Living Room Candidate provides a very good example of  how presidential campaigns have changed over the years. It is an archive of campaign commercials, debates, advertisements, and election results. In this website it is obvious, starting with Lyndon B. Johnson’s re-election campaign of 1964, that this is when candidates started “attacking” each other, rather than just focus on themselves and what they have to offer. This has really been evident in the past couple of campaigns. It seems as if candidates only talk about their opponent in their advertisement. Candidates also seem to strive to highlight anything wrong that their opponent did in the past.

Lyndon B. Johnson ran a very controversial ad during his 1964 campaign called the “Daisy Girl” ad. In this ad it shows a little girl peacefully picking at a flower. All of a sudden, she is seemingly blown up by a nuclear explosion. Johnson’s message in this ad is that if Goldwater was elected, this is something that could happen, and wanted to instate a fear in America that Goldwater would start a nuclear war if elected president. This ad only ran once because it was so controversial but is a good example of the beginning of the new campaign strategy of candidates attacking each others faults.

Political campaigns have stayed the same in that each party is constantly working to elect their candidate.There is still the big spectacle of party conventions. They have also stayed the same in that some advertisements will only focus on the candidate and what their accomplishments are, however this is very rare. I think they have also stayed the same in that the candidate always has his core campaign advisers helping him along the way. There are also debates nowadays, except for the exception of Johnson and Nixon declining debates during each of their respective campaigns.

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  1. February 26, 2011 at 10:00 pm

    Good discussion of the LBJ ad. This is probably the most famous American political ad of all time.

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