Throwback Thursday video: ‘And If I’m Elected,’ 1984 special featuring classic political commercials


The little girl picking daisies during a nuclear strike became one of the most famous political ads of all time.

August 28, 2014 ( — This throwback Thursday video is a two-fer: It’s a throwback video of a throwback video. And If I’m Elected is an hour-long HBO special featuring classic campaign ads introduced by the Smothers Brothers.

The 1984 special includes vintage TV spots dating back to a 1932 film for FDR featuring Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. Most of the classic ads you remember — and a few you’re certain never to have seen — are here.

As a real treat, part four below features a rare campaign ad from Ellen McCormack, who ran for the 1976 Democratic presidential nomination as a single issue pro-life candidate. The lead-up — in which Tommy Smothers oversells the “graphic” nature of the ad (which only shows living babies at various stages of fetal development) — begins at approximately 7:45.

The closing scenes show footage of Pat Paulsen, the only presidential candidate I ever really believed in.

Written by Peter Ferrara, And If I’m Elected was filmed as two half-hour segments  that were subsequently combined into one show for a home video release, with a rather odd segue, which is how it appears in the six segments below.

The shows debuted on HBO in late August and September 1984, almost exactly 30 years ago today — shortly before Ronald Reagan would win 49 states. The first program aired the night that Pinklon Thomas won the WBC World Heavyweight title from “Terrible” Tim Witherspoon, in part by thumbing him in the eye. But that fight was less brutal and dirty than some of the commercials this show highlights, particularly the ads against Barry Goldwater.


Part 1 of 6:

Part 2 of 6:

Part 3 of 6:

Part 4 of 6:

Part 5 of 6:

Part 6 of 6:

Ben Johnson is U.S. Bureau Chief of, the guest host of Nothing But Truth with Crane Durhamon AFR Talk Radio, and the author of three books. His personal website is Connect with him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.