1984 Reagan VS. Mondale
The Living Room Candidate
"Roller Coaster," Mondale, 1984
MALE NARRATOR: 1982. Reaganomics sinks our country into the deepest recession and unemployment in fifty years. Now Ronald Reagan says the economy is moving up. It is: up on a mountain of debt and record Reagan deficits. More borrowing than all the other presidents in history combined. That will drive interest rates up, slow the economy down, and then...
MALE NARRATOR [and TEXT]: If you're thinking of voting for Ronald Reagan in 1984... Think of what will happen in 1985.
"Rollercoaster," Mondale/Ferraro Committee, Inc., 1984
Maker: DH Sawyer and AssociatesVideo courtesy of the Minnesota Historical Society, Walter Mondale Papers.
From Museum of the Moving Image, The Living Room Candidate: Presidential Campaign Commercials 1952-2012.
www.livingroomcandidate.org/commercials/1984/rollercoaster (accessed June 10, 2023).
In 1984, the economy was in an upswing. Oil prices were low, interest rates were high, and the lurking problem of the mounting federal deficit caused little public concern. The popular President Reagan was earning the label "the Teflon president" for his ability to escape unscathed from setbacks. In October 1983, 241 marines were killed in a terrorist attack in Beirut. The debacle was eclipsed days later by a marine invasion of Grenada, purportedly to save a small group of medical students from the island’s new leftist government. Public confidence in the military was restored.
The unenviable task of running against Reagan fell to former Vice President Walter Mondale. Mondale made two bold choices in his campaign, both of which backfired. First, he selected a woman, New York Representative Geraldine Ferraro, as his running mate. Media scrutiny of her husband’s finances put Ferraro on the defensive. Second, Mondale announced in his acceptance speech that he would raise taxes to fight the deficit. He missed the opportunity to point out that a day earlier Reagan had quietly signed a bill raising taxes by $50 billion. Reagan succeeded in tagging Mondale as a typical free-spending Democrat, and won the most lopsided electoral victory since 1936.
George Bush for vice president
"America Is Back"
With lush images of Americans buying houses, raising flags, washing cars, going to work, and playing in their yards, all set to swelling music in a montage style familiar from soft-drink and beer commercials, Ronald Reagan ads presented an upbeat image of "Morning in America." Reagan consultant Philip Dusenbery has said that the ads were designed to evoke emotion rather than thought or understanding: "That’s the most powerful part of advertising. It stays with people longer and better." The Reagan campaign produced several ads to defuse Mondale’s main attacks. The most memorable spot,
Geraldine Ferraro for vice president
"Fighting for Your Future"
Most of Walter Mondale’s ads featured ominous music reminiscent of the soundtrack of the popular horror movie Halloween. To evoke the dark side of "Morning in America," these conceptual ads used eerie scenes such as a father digging a hole for a bomb shelter in his backyard to protect his family in case of nuclear war. Mondale’s ads attacked Reagan on three issues: arms control, the deficit, and the widening gulf between the rich and the middle class. The ads asked the public to look beyond the apparent prosperity of the nation and see trouble on the horizon, but their claims did not ring true for the majority of Americans. A Mondale