Bio | Jimmy Carter, 1976
It is traditional for candidates to begin their advertising campaigns with biographical ads. These positive commercials frame their life stories in the best possible light, attempting to link their personal histories to their political goals. The focus on personality was especially important in the 1976 election, which took place less than two years after the Watergate scandal and the resignation of President Richard Nixon. Many voters were cynical about their government, and character became a more significant factor than individual issues. Political historian Michael Barone said that “the 1976 election is probably unique in American history as one in which the focus of attention was not on the performance of the incumbent President but rather on the character of the challenger.” This five-minute biographical ad for Governor Jimmy Carter accomplishes a lot: it establishes Carter as a fresh-faced outsider with roots in small-town America and experience as a Naval officer, and as a peanut farmer who made working people rather than special interests his priority as Governor of Georgia. From its modest opening, with the candidate seen in a denim work shirt on a farm, to its uplifting ending, where Carter is shown immediately after a shot of Mount Rushmore, the ad creates an emotionally compelling case for Carter as the candidate who can create a “new era” in America.
"Bio," 1976 Democratic Presidential Campaign Committee, Inc., 1976
Maker: Gerald Rafshoon