AllPolitics - Ad Archives


Steve Forbes wasn't the first presidential wannabe to make effective use of the airwaves. With roots going back to Dwight Eisenhower and Adlai Stevenson's 1952 contest, politics and TV advertising are inextricably linked in the modern era.

Who can forget George Bush's "Willie Horton" ads, which played to racial fears and portrayed Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis as soft on crime? Or "Harry and Louise," who, seated at their kitchen table, expressed their fears about President Bill Clinton's national health care plan.

Humor, innuendo, sentiment, drama, and brazen attack are all part of political ads, and those elements have remained remarkably constant over the years. But tap into AllPolitics' growing archive of TV ads and judge for yourself.

  • Adlai Stevenson: Music Man 1.5 MB
    In 1952, Adlai Stevenson responded to Eisenhower's ads with some pretty creative ones of his own, such as this musical tribute to his political skills.

  • Dwight Eisenhower: The Man From Abilene 2 MB
    Eisenhower, the all-American hero from the heartland! Another classic from the 1952 campaign.

  • George Bush Asks: Can We Trust Dukakis As Commander-in-Chief? 1.2 MB
    Another memorable ad from the 1988 race, in which Bush alleges that Michael Dukakis would be inept at leading the military.

  • JFK Uses Ike To Blast Nixon 2.4 MB
    John F. Kennedy relied on another popular president, Dwight Eisenhower, to do the talking for him. Asked to name one original idea proposed by his vice president Richard Nixon, Eisenhower was at a loss.

  • Dukakis Asks: Could Be President? 1.3 MB
    Who can forget this ad, in which Michael Dukakis played upon the public's lack of confidence in Bush's running mate Dan Quayle? Dukakis wanted us to realize that Bush is mortal, and he asks us whether we want to risk Dan Quayle running the country.

  • Reagan And The Bear 1.3 MB
    In another of his famous political ads, Ronald Reagan uses a bear to portray himself as a strong leader.

  • Willie Horton: Is Dukakis Soft On Crime? 1.2 MB
    George Bush used this well-known ad to depict Dukakis as soft on crime. Bush asserted that when Dukakis was governor of Massachussetts, convicted criminal Willie Horton was paroled and went on to commit more crimes. Do we want the same for the entire country?

  • 1952, 'Eisenhower Answers America' 832 K
    Bemoans the federal debt, high taxes, and U.S. involvement in an international war... sound familiar? Republican mantra's proud history.

  • 1964, Johnson 'Daisy' 2 MB
    Images of a cute little girl counting daisy petals give way to those of a nuclear blast countdown in this still-haunting commercial from Lyndon Johnson.

  • 1968, Humphrey 'Laughing at Agnew' 1 MB
    Criticizes Nixon's running mate with just one sound and one image : as the name Spiro Agnew appears on a TV screen, we hear a man break into gales of laughter.

  • 1984, Reagan 'Morning Again in America' 1.1 MB
    Before there were "family values," there was "Morning in America," courtesy Ronald Reagan. Feel-good political ad of the year.

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