Thingish Things

Campaign Ad, Bush ’88

Written By: William F. B. O'Reilly - Jun• 27•11

In case you have forgotten it, here is the historic and controversial “Willie Horton Ad” that obliterated Michael Dukakis’s chances for the presidency in 1988. The ad was called racist by the Dukakis campaign, but it was hugely effective.  When tested in focus groups in July of that year, audiences turned instantly against Dukakis after seeing the spot.  I hadn’t watched it in 23 years, and my reaction to viewing it today was as visceral as the first time I saw it: Weekend furloughs for first-degree murderers? Are you kidding me? This guy cannot be President.

Call it what you want.  But it was a powerful political ad. Simple, straightforward, inexpensive — and devastating.

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