Type of Commercial Commander in Chief

Our President

Transcript

Museum of the Moving Image
The Living Room Candidate - Transcript
"Our President," Johnson, 1964

MALE NARRATOR: The Constitution does not tell us what kind of man a President must be. It says he must be thirty-five years old and a natural-born citizen. It leaves the rest to the wisdom of the voters. Our presidents have been reasonable men. They have listened. They have thought clearly and spoken carefully. They have cared about people, for the pieces of paper on which they sign their names change people's lives. Most of all, in the final loneliness of this room they have been prudent. They have known that the decisions they make here can change the course of history or end history altogether. In crisis and tragedy, we have found men worthy of this office. We have been fortunate. Vote for President Johnson on November 3rd. The stakes are too high for you to stay home.

Credits

"Our President," Democratic National Committee, 1964

Maker: DDB: Aaron Erlich, Stan Lee, Sid Myers, and Tony Schwartz

Video courtesy of the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library.

From Museum of the Moving Image, The Living Room Candidate: Presidential Campaign Commercials 1952-2012.
www.livingroomcandidate.org/commercials/1964/our-president (accessed August 22, 2014).

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Is the candidate fit to be the commander in chief, to be entrusted with the power to go to war and the responsibility of defending the country? And what would the candidate’s leadership style be like? Of course, in re-election campaigns, incumbent presidents can take advantage of imagery from their first terms.
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Our President Decisions Nixon the Man Leadership Oval Int World Leaders Gorbachev Oval Office Presidency: Plain Talk Next Century
 
The 1964 Lyndon Johnson commercial “Our President” expressed the issue in the most momentous terms: “The decisions they make here can change the course of history or end history altogether.” Without mentioning Barry Goldwater by name, the ad implied that the Republican candidate could not trusted as commander in chief.
Four years later, Richard Nixon’s campaign ad “Decisions” suggested that the Democrats were responsible for the escalating war in Vietnam, and raised the stakes with the ominous slogan “This time, vote like your whole world depended on it.”
Richard Nixon was portrayed as a confident and charming leader in “Nixon the Man,” an ad that projected an almost regal view of the presidency. He is shown at state dinners, at his daughter's White House wedding, and in Oval Office meetings as a leader who is both at ease and in charge.
In response to public concerns about presidential hubris following Watergate, Gerald Ford presented a much more casual, open, and informal leadership style in the ad “Leadership,” which was clearly designed to present Ford as the anti-Nixon.
Jimmy Carter’s ad campaign contained several spots that highlighted his intellect and decision-making ability, suggesting that the president must be able to make tough decisions alone, without following scripts provided by advisers. The thinly hidden message behind “Oval Int” was that his opponent, Ronald Reagan, might not have had the intellect or the physical stamina to do the tough work and make the tough decisions that the job required.
Of course, as the incumbent four years later, Reagan had the chance to show himself to be at ease and in charge, and, as in the ad “World Leaders,” comfortable with his counterparts around the world.
The vice presidency can be used as a kind of rehearsal for the lead role, and the George Bush ad “Gorbachev” showed the vice president looking comfortable with the Soviet leader, ready to be his peer.
On the other hand, the deadpan “Oval Office” reminded voters that Bush had selected J. Danforth Quayle as his running mate, exploiting public concern that the young senator would be a heartbeat away from the presidency.
In “Presidency: Plain Talk,” President Bush talks to a group of voters in an ad that had two intentions: to dispel the notion that he was aloof and out of touch with the ordinary person, and to show that he alone had the toughness and moral backbone to make hard decisions.
Four years later, Bill Clinton presented a list of accomplishments and showed himself at ease in the White House in “Next Century.”