The Year of the Negative Campaign

Published: 1988
Play Audio Archive Story - UPI
Senator Bob Graham, of Florida wears two firehats at the Democratic National Convention 7/20/1988.

Vicki Barker: This is Vicki barker. 1988 was the year of the negative campaign and it started at the Democratic National Convention.

Unknown Speaker: “The vice president says he wasn't there as the administration secretly plotted to sell arms to Iran. I think it is fair to ask where was George?”

Unknown Speaker: “Poor George, he can't help it, he was born with a silver foot in his mouth.”

Vicki Barker: The republicans quickly counter attacked.

Unknown Speaker: “I will be damned if I will stay and let any one with a smirk and a sneer discredit the honor, service, accountability and confidence of George Bush.”

Unknown Speaker: “As President Micheal Dukakis, will pack the federal courts with ACLU radicals.”

Vicki Barker: At rally after rally George Bush hammered Micheal Dukakis on the pledge of allegiance, the American Civil Liberties Union, Boston harbor and the L word.”

George Bush: “He said in a Primary, I am a strong progressive liberal and now he calls it dirty politics if I use the big L word. I am going to keep on using it because that's what he said he is.”

Vicki Barker: Dukakis compared Bush's tactics to McCarthyism.

Micheal Dukakis: “Those republican's haven't changed a bit. Now, they are attacking my patriotism and the American people can smell the garbage.”

Vicki Barker: And Lloyd Benson aimed one of the campaign's biggest zingers, that is Republican Vice Presidential rival Dan Quayle.

Dan Quayle: “I have as much experience in the congress as Jack Kennedy did when he sought the presidency.”

Lloyd Benson: “Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine, Senator you are no Jack Kennedy.”

Vicki Barker: Poll after poll showed most Americans didn't like all that negative campaigning, but it worked. The poll showed Bush's attack on Dukakis helped turn the tide in his favor. This is Vickie Barker.

Pye Chamberlayne: This is Pye Chamberlayne. Sure dirty campaigning works, it usually does. Willie Horton became one of the most familiar figures in American politics. He was a murderer who had committed rape on a furlough from a Massachusetts prison while Dukakis was Governor. The Bush TV commercial featured Horton more than any one else alive except Bush. They convinced a huge segment of the American public that Dukakis was a sissy on crime. Columnists suggested that bush owed Horton a huge politician debt, this is Pye Chamberlayne.