Communication in the Presidential Primaries: Candidates and the Media, 1912-2000

By Kathleen E. Kendall | Go to book overview
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Chapter 4
Advertising in a
Multi-Candidate Field

On the isomorphism of issue and image: "Politicians are indeed packaged. Contained in their 'packages' are a host of embodied issues, the only sorts of issues relevant to a human, communicative enterprise like political affairs." -- Roderick P. Hart, 1982, p. 367

Researchers of political advertising often ask the public what specific television spots they remember, if any ( Roberts, 1995; West, 1993). The author's choice from the 1992 primaries would be the "Echoes" spot of Democratic candidate Senator Tom Harkin, made by Ken Swope and run in New Hampshire. In this spot, Harkin, in shirtsleeves and a tie, spoke to an audience of working people in an empty factory. He used the setting as a metaphor for George Bush's failed economic policies, pointing down the barren corridors. "All over America," he said, "I see empty factories, the dashed hopes and dreams of working people all over this country.""You can look down this hallway," he said, gesturing, and the camera swept over the vacant halls, the dangling light switch, the single chair, the bare floor. "You can hear the echoes," he said. The strings and chords provided slow, serious "memory music." With the sight of the empty building came plucking, harplike tones in the treble register, wistful, a cliche for an empty building and what might have been. "They were good citizens, they fought our wars and they paid their taxes," said Harkin. And they were challenging us not to forget that what made America great was "people at work." They were calling to us, saying, "Don't forget. Don't give up. Build it again. We can do

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