There are a lot of bad things you can say about the current state of political advertising. Campaigns ads to be loaded with unrelenting negativity and a wanton disregard for the truth, and they are often crafted with creepy specificity based on your demographics and what you buy online. They also tend to be crisp, slickly produced and imminently watchable, at least for the first handful of times.
That wasn't always the case. Take the above ad from Gerald Ford' 1976 re-election campaign. It runs for a staggering 4 minutes and 21 seconds and features a melange of man-on-the-street endorsements, clips of Ford speaking to adoring crowds and some righteous butterfly collars, all set to the rousing backdrop of a marching band. (Refrain: "I'm feeling good about America, and I feel it everywhere I go. I'm feeling good about America! I'm feeling good about meeeee!")
The advertisement never aired, but not because it was painfully long, a poorly executed piece of jingoistic schlock or practicably unwatchable. The reason comes at about the 3:20 mark, as the video boasts of just how far the country has come since Ford took office.
The video shows him traveling in a motorcade through downtown Dallas, accompanied by a voice-over. "When a limousine can parade openly through the streets of Dallas, there's a change that's come over America," the narrator explains.
That line, and the ad itself, did not go over well with focus groups, for obvious reasons. The footage was scrapped, locked away in a fault in the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library until today when PBS News Hour posted it on YouTube. Not that burying the ad did anything to scrub Ford of the taint of Richard Nixon.
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