February 16th, 2012

Who’s Creating the Negative Super PAC Ads?

Jane Mayer, writing for the New Yorker, profiles Larry McCarthy, famous for making the racially-tinged Willie Horton ad used against Michael Dukakis in 1988, now making ads for Mitt Romney’s Restore Our Futre PAC.

In 2004, McCarthy believed that he had nearly achieved his ambition—the “perfect spot”—with an ad for George W. Bush, called “Ashley’s Story.” Created for another independent group, the Progress for America Voter Fund, it showed Bush embracing a teen-age girl whose mother had been killed on September 11, 2001, in Al Qaeda’s attack on the World Trade Center. The girl, Ashley, looked into the camera and said of Bush, “He’s the most powerful man in the world, and all he wants to do is make sure I’m safe.” The group bought more than fourteen million dollars’ worth of airtime for the ad, much of it in the key swing state of Ohio, where Ashley lived; it was the biggest single ad buy of the 2004 Presidential campaign. Two backers, both California business executives, contributed five million dollars apiece. Bob Shrum, a Democratic operative, was the principal strategist for Bush’s opponent, Senator John Kerry, and he blames the ad for the Democrats’ defeat. “The ad was pretty close to decisive in Ohio,” Shrum said. “And Ohio was the whole thing.

Read the full article here.

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