The 2000 presidential campaign took a quick turn towards the bizarre the week of Oct. 23 as one GOP group launched an ad strike against Vice President Al Gore parodying Lyndon Johnson's famous 1964 "Daisy" spot, while another GOP group trumpeted Green Party candidate Ralph Nader.
The original 60-second "Daisy" spot was produced by Doyle Dane Bernbach, New York, for the Democratic National Committee. It suggested GOP presidential hopeful Barry Goldwater was too militant, showing a little girl counting the petals of a daisy, followed by footage of a mushroom cloud produced by a nuclear explosion. Though the spot ran just once before President Lyndon Johnson and Democratic National Committee officials killed it, it is considered one of the best political ads ever done.
The week of Oct. 23, a Texas group called Aretino Industries offered a new version. It, too, featured a girl counting petals, but then switched to billboards charging that the current administration sold out "to Communist Red China" in accepting campaign contributions. "[China] has the ability to threaten our homes with long-range nuclear weapons." After the girl counts, and the explosion, voice-over says, "Don't take a chance. Please vote Republican." The group did not return repeated phone calls for comment or details. Media reports have the ad running in Michigan, Missouri, Ohio and Pennsylvania.
Democratic Vice Presidential candidate Sen. Joe Lieberman last week termed the new daisy ad "foul" and "outrageously wrong" and called on Texas Gov. George W. Bush to get it withdrawn. "As I see it, it is an expression of panic by the campaign or its supporters," Sen. Lieberman said. "I don't think the American people will stand for it. Gov. Bush ought not to benefit from low politics."
The Republican Leadership Council, meanwhile, announced plans to spend $100,000 running a spot featuring Mr. Nader criticizing Vice President Gore today in Oregon, Washington and Wisconsin--states the Gore campaign fears it could lose to Gov. Bush if votes for Mr. Nader tip the scales. The 15-second spot was done by Les Heintz Media Productions, Arlington, Va.
Copyright October 2000, Crain Communications Inc.