Seeing Spots: A Functional Analysis of Presidential Television Advertisements, 1952-1996

By William L. Benoit | Go to book overview

Chapter 5
Nixon's Return: 1968, 1972

In 1968, President Johnson had decided not to seek another term in office. His vice president, Hubert Humphrey, was selected as the Democratic nominee. Senator Edmund Muskie was chosen to be his running mate. Richard Nixon, who had lost the presidential campaign to Kennedy in 1960 and the 1962 gubernatorial campaign to Edmund Brown, was nominated to lead the Republican Party. Governor Spiro Agnew was selected as his running mate. ( Governor George Wallace and General Curtis LeMay ran on the American Independent Party ticket, winning some electoral votes [see Splain, 1995].) The Vietnam War was very controversial and Martin Luther King was assassinated in October of 1968.

Nixon's spots attacked the status quo, arguing that the Johnson/ Humphrey administration had been inept, and that Nixon would improve matters. Several of these spots discussed foreign affairs:

Never has so much military, economic, and diplomatic power been used as ineffectively as in Vietnam. And if after all of this time and all of this sacrifice and all of this support there is still no end in sight, then I say the time has come for the American people to turn to new leadership not tied to the policies and mistakes of the past. I pledge to you: we will have an honorable end to the war in Vietnam [This time, Nixon. This time, Republican all the way]. ( Nixon, 1968, Vietnam)

Other spots lamented the state of domestic affairs and pledged improvements at home if we elect Nixon to be president:

In recent years crime in this country has grown nine times as fast as the population. At the current rate, the crimes of violence in America will double by 1972.

-53-

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