8 Presidential Campaign Ads We’re Still Talking About

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President Obama was recently criticized by Republicans and conservatives for releasing a campaign ad that focuses on the anniversary of the killing of Osama Bin Laden, and directly implies that Republican candidate for President Mitt Romney would not have given the necessary orders to carry out that mission. Pundits, including The Daily Show's host Jon Stewart, have been weighing in with opinions regarding the appropriateness of the ad. Whether or not President Obama's ad will be one we talk about beyond its 2012 date stamp remains to be seen. With that in mind, here are eight presidential campaign ads people still talk about, presented to you for comparative analysis.

  1. You like Ike! I like Ike! Everybody likes Ike for president! (1952)

    We begin with a fun animated ad for Dwight Eisenhower's campaign for president, featuring the ridiculously catchy "Ike for President" jingle ("Ike" was the nickname for Eisenhower). Except for a brief moment where the Democratic opposition appear as three fenced-in donkeys, the ad is nothing like today's attack ads. And Eisenhower, who continued the New Deal agencies, launched the Interstate Highway System, and sent federal troops to Little Rock, Ark., to enforce the desegregation of public schools, was nothing like today's Republicans.

  2. John F. Kennedy (1960)

    This ad really seems like an anachronism, less a political ad and more like a brief excerpt from a State of the Union address. The bill John F. Kennedy is referring to in this ad would become amendments to the 1935 Social Security Act that established both Medicare and Medicaid. A final version of this bill was presented to Congress and signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1965. Kennedy was assassinated in 1963.

  3. Lyndon B. Johnson "Daisy" ad (1964)

    They don't make 'em like this anymore! In this campaign ad for Lyndon B. Johnson's presidential run, a little girl counts to 10 as she plucks the petals off of a daisy. Her voice is replaced by a stern male voice-over that counts backwards from 10 to zero. The camera zooms in on the little girl's eyeball, and suddenly, footage of a nuclear bomb exploding fills the screen. The message is clear. Vote for the Republican Barry Goldwater, and you can kiss the planet goodbye. The ad aired only once. Johnson won the race by a landslide.

  4. Bush and Dukakis on Crime (1988)

    This ad and its sequel, the notorious "revolving door" ad, helped Republican George H. W. Bush win the 1988 presidential election against Democrat Michael Dukakis. The first "weekend pass" ad uses a mug shot of convicted murderer Willie Horton who, while on release from prison during a weekend furlough program, repeatedly raped a woman and pistol-whipped and knifed her fiance. Dukakis, then the Governor of Massachusetts, was lambasted for supporting the state's furlough program, while the Bush campaign was accused of racism for their use of Horton's mug shot in the ad. The second ad featured several actors portraying prisoners entering and exiting a prison through a revolving door. A voice-over solemly intoned: "Michael Dukakis says he wants to do for America what he's done for Massachusetts." Dukakis' campaign never recovered from the ads.

  5. Swift Boat Veterans for Truth Ad on John Kerry (2004)

    The term "swift boating," which refers to an organized effort to expose a person for lying about whatever, came into popular vernacular after this ad, created by Swift Boat Veterans for Truth (SBVT), a group of Vietnam veterans who served at the same time as Senator John Kerry, aired during Kerry's Presidential bid in an effort to debunk his military service record. However, none of the veterans in this ad were present during the occasions where Kerry won his Purple Heart medals, and only one actually served in Kerry's boat crew. Kerry's post-Vietnam anti-war activism may have been the real reason for the creation of Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. And in fact, one of the four SBVT ads describes Kerry as a man who "renounced his country's symbols."

  6. Rick Perry for President (2012)

    This head slapper is now seen as one of the many nails that Rick Perry, who is still Governor of Texas, drove into the coffin of his 2012 campaign for the Republican candidate nomination for President. The irony of the outdoors location and the choice of L.L. Bean fashion is apparently lost on the gay-bashing Perry, who obviously has never seen Brokeback Mountain.

  7. Obama and sex education (2008)

    Senator John McCain's 2008 presidential bid didn't get a lot of help from this ad which implied then-Senator Obama had pushed through legislation to teach sex education to kindergarteners. The ad's incredulous voice-over asks, "Learning about sex before learning how to read?" The legislation Obama helped to pass was actually carefully designed to educate children to be aware of and avoid sexual predators. Planned Parenthood created an ad in response to the controversy.

  8. George Wallace Presidential TV ad (1968)

    In 1968, George Wallace entered the race for president as an independent. The former Alabama governor (who would go on to win three more non-consecutive terms) had no problems at the time expressing his opposition to desegregation, as well as a vaguely defined, but no less passionate support for law and order. This campaign ad has all the technical finesse and subtlety of a B-horror movie trailer, but is a good reminder that there is some historical precedent for today's negative ads.

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