'Daisy,' LBJ's Anti-Goldwater TV Ad That Ran Only Once And Shocked A Nation

By | September 7, 2020

test article image
Young Monique Luiz counts flower petals in 'Dasy.' Source: YouTube

On September 7th, 1964, Lyndon B. Johnson's "Daisy" TV advertisement changed political campaigns forever. The ad, which presented Johnson as a peaceful leader and his opponent Barry Goldwater as a nuclear war-loving madman, encouraged future candidates to completely alter how their campaigns would be constructed. “Daisy” shocked the world and proved that targeting emotions can be the most effective method to persuade an audience. 

test article image
Senator Barry Goldwater and President Lyndon Johnson in the Oval Office, May 21, 1968. Source: Yoichi Okamoto/LBJ Library Photo via Politico

The battle for presidency between Democratic candidate Lyndon B. Johnson and Republican Barry Goldwater Sr. was a malicious fight. Johnson had been Vice President under John F. Kennedy, and had risen to the presidency following the assassination of JFK on November 22, 1963. Goldwater’s political experience came from his long service as a Senator from Arizona. Goldwater criticized all of Johnson’s presidential goals, instead offering up a conservative agenda. Goldwater even proudly cited his vote against the Civil Rights Act, passed earlier in 1964. 

Perhaps the biggest difference between the two men was their stance on the Cold War and warfare in general. Johnson was an advocate of peace, which caused Republicans to believe that Communists could take over and wipe out America under his leadership. On the other hand, Goldwater claimed he was pro-war and not opposed to using nuclear weapons on Cuba and North Vietnam to protect the country. Thus, Democrats viewed Goldwater as a president that could contribute unnecessary warfare and were then afraid for their lives and the future of the country.