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Daisy Girl – “Mudslingers: The Twenty-Five Dirtiest Political Campaigns of All Time” – Kerwin Swint

April 29th, 2012 · No Comments · Campaigning, History, Nuclear Weapons, Politics, US Politics

The ‘Daisy Girl’ spot was intended to play on the fears and anxieties about Goldwater that he himself had created. The ad opens with a young girl sitting in a field of flowers, picking daisies as she counts them….

At zero, the camera zooms in to the girl’s eyes and we see a nuclear explosion, with a billowing mushroom cloud. Then, Lyndon Johnson’s voice is heard, with a warning: “These are the stakes – to make a world in which all of God’s children can live, or to go into the dark. We must either love each other, or we must die.” An announcer then says, “Vote for President Johnson on November 3. The stakes are too high for you to stay home.”

The ad never mentioned Goldwater by name. It did not have to; viewers knew exactly what the ad was trying to communicate. …

The ad only aired once, on the CBS Monday Night at the Movies, on September 7, 1964…. The ad created such a senation that the next day all three networks showed it in its entirety on their evening news programs, enabling many more people to see the ad and so magnifying the effects. The Goldwater campaign reacted with fury, loudly criticising the Johnson campaign and filing a formal complaint with the Fair Campaign Practices Committee. In the end, all the fuss the Republicans raise about the ad only ensured that it would get more attention.

The Johnson campaign struck again a few days later with a different little girl. This ad also aired only once, on Saturday Night at the Movies. The girl is licking an ice cream cone. No nuclear explosions this time, but a female announcer warns us that Strontium 90, present in nuclear fallout, could be poisoning her and she wouldn’t even know it. But the announcer informs us that thanks to the nuclear test ban treaty, which Goldwater oppsed, the child is safe…. When Goldwater rejected the test ban and called for more nuclear testing, it ‘played right into [the Johnson cmapign’s] hands.”

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