American Political Ads from the 1968 Presidential Election Campaign
1968 was a very tumultuous year in the United States. It was a year when opposition to the war in Vietnam was at its peak. It was also a year in which a sitting president was being attacked from all sides; especially from his own Democratic party. Eugene McCarthy won the New Hamphire Primary, defeating Lyndon Johnson. Shortly after that, Robert F. Kennedy entered the race againsts LBJ. And, shortly after that LBJ withdrew from the race. It was one of the most exciting election campaigns in US history.
In June, Robert F. Kennedy was murdered after winning the California primary and becoming the man to beat Humphrey at the convention. After Robert F. Kennedy was murdered the people who would have voted for him were devastated. Some of them actually supported George Wallace in his bid for the presidency, others pushed George McGovern as their candidate, and still others ended up voting for Richard Nixon. The Democratic convention in Chicago was a mess; with riots in the streets and near riots in the convention hall itself. Hubert Humphrey ended up being the Democratic candidate and eventually lost to Richard Nixon.
In those days, negative political ads did exist, but there weren't as prevalent as they are today. One of the most famous negative ads was the one from 1964 in which LBJ basically said that if Barry Goldwater won there would be a nuclear war.
There were negative political ads in 1968, as you can see below. Only one that I could find attacked an individual and George Wallace basically ran on a law and order platform, capitalizing on the fear of people against rioters and minorities. I found it interesting that the ads from Nixon and Kennedy were the most positive, concentrating on the young.
A Political Ad from 1968, Hubert Humphrey gets negative about Nixon
A Political Ad from 1968, Richard Nixon tries to appeal to the youth of America
A Political Ad from 1968, Robert Kennedy talks to school children
A Political Ad from 1968, George Wallace ran on law and order
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All of you young people who served in the war. You are a lost generation.... You have no respect for anything. You drink yourselves to death – Gertrude Stein