Mudslingers: The Top 25 Negative Political Campaigns of All Time : Countdown from No. 25 To No. 1

By Kerwin C. Swint | Go to book overview

PROLOGUE

Don't let them fool you—people love negative campaigns. In survey after survey, registered voters say they don't like the negativity and the mudslinging in politics. But if that is true, then why is there so much mudslinging in campaigns? One reason is that the consultants who run most campaigns these days insist that they work. Maybe they are right; people love soap operas and they love gossip—and political campaigns have plenty of both.

There is another reason negative campaigns may be effective—people remember them. In this regard, this book is a sort of "greatest hits" compilation. There have been some very effective, very memorable, and very nasty political campaigns in the last couple hundred years, and the "top 25" are chronicled here.

This book covers more than two hundred years of American politics, beginning in 1800 with the bitter feud between Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, and ending with the 2004 blowout between George W. Bush and John Kerry. In between, there are rascals, patriots, robber barons, soldiers, and TV stars. And that's just among the presidential candidates.

The list of the most negative campaigns of all time also includes U.S. congressional races, races for governor, and even some for mayor. It was very difficult to choose just twenty-five campaigns because when looking at the vast landscape of American political history, there is a lot of material to choose from. It might be tempting to focus only on presidential races because they are the best known, and certainly they are usually extremely nasty affairs. But there are some, actually quite a few, campaigns below the level of president that deserved to make the list.

After all, was the 1984 race between Ronald Reagan and Walter Mondale particularly dirty, or was the 1996 campaign between Bill Clinton and Bob

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Mudslingers: The Top 25 Negative Political Campaigns of All Time : Countdown from No. 25 To No. 1
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Prologue xiii
  • 25- From Vietnam to Iraq 1
  • 24- It''s a Jungle out There 11
  • 23- Senator Pothole versus "Putzhead" 23
  • 22- Electronic Mudslinging 31
  • 21- The Art of War 39
  • 20- Homo Sapiens, Thespians, and Extroverts 47
  • 19- Vote for the Crook—it''s Important 55
  • 18- Who''s the Boss? Richard Daley and the Chicago Political Machine 63
  • 17- Polluting the Garden State 71
  • 16- God Save the Republic, Please 79
  • 15- Rudy and the Jets 87
  • 14- A Jersey Street Fight 95
  • 13- In This Corner, Little Lord Fauntleroy 103
  • 12- Sex, Lies, and Videotape 113
  • 11- Claytie versus the Lady 123
  • 10- Richard Nixon versus the United States of America 133
  • 9- "Bye-Bye Blackbird" 143
  • 8- America, Meet Willie Horton 153
  • 7- Tricky Dick versus the Pink Lady 163
  • 6- Grantism and Mr. Greeley 173
  • 5- The First Campaign 183
  • 4- A House Divided 193
  • 3- Mud, Mugwumps, and Motherhood 203
  • 2- The Dirtiest Campaign in American History? 213
  • 1- George Wallace and the "Negro Bloc Vote" 223
  • Epilogue 233
  • Notes 237
  • Bibliography 247
  • Index 251
  • About the Author 255
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