The ad below was run in 1980 by the Ronald Reagan campaign for President. Reagan, a Republican, ran against the incumbent Democrat, Jimmy Carter in the general election. Congressman John Anderson, also a Republican, ran as a third party Independent or National Unity Party candidate in that election as well. The man that you see in the ad is neither Reagan nor Carter. It is not Anderson for that matter.
The speaker is then-Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy who ran for President in the Democratic primaries against Carter. Kennedy attempted to capitalize on his name and his left-leaning populism against the unpopular Carter. Kennedy’s campaign sputtered at the start and the Senator never really mounted a challenge to Carter throughout the primary season.
What Reagan’s campaign did with this ad was to use Kennedy’s words against Carter in the general election. This is sometimes called a “them on them” ad. It is where a candidate uses the words of his opponent’s former opponents against him. In this case, Reagan uses the words of Kennedy against Carter. Reagan does not have to say a word in the ad. The goal is to get dissatisfied Democrats to switch parties on Election Day and support the Republican Reagan.
Do you believe that ads of the “them on them” variety are effective?