Did LBJ Run the Hardest-Hitting Attack Ads in a Presidential Race?

Campaign Took Delight in Making Barry Goldwater Cry

By Published on .

Only the historically uninformed or willingly deceitful can look at today's political ad landscape and claim that this is the worst it's ever been. Students of political campaigning, marketing and advertising know that there never was a golden age of civility in this country. Attack ads have been with us from the start. But, man, the Lyndon Johnson campaign might take the cake when it comes to bare-knuckle pounding of opponents.

If you're reading this, you've probably seen "Peace, Little Girl" (aka "Daisy"), the ad that all but stated the children of this country would be incinerated in a nuclear conflagration if Barry Goldwater were to be elected. It topped our list of game-changing political ads posted yesterday. But while looking for the videos on YouTube, I came across this one from LBJ and the gang.

It's called "KKK for Goldwater." The title pretty much sums it up, but it's the sort of ad that doesn't hit the opponent for something he said. It hits him for something said by someone who endorsed him -- whether he wanted that endorsement or not. A common ploy in political marketing to be sure, but the visuals and copy in this ad are jarring to 21st-century sensibilities.

Most Popular