This 50-Year-Old Campaign Ad Has Suddenly Gone Viral as the Perfect Pitch Against Trump

'Confessions of a Republican' resurrected from 1964

Headshot of David Griner

A Republican Party divided. A high-profile candidate known for his extreme statements and hawkish saber-rattling. Sound familiar? 

That was the case in 1964 with ultra-conservative GOP candidate Barry Goldwater, just as it is today with Republican front-runner Donald Trump. 

Five decades ago, President Lyndon Johnson's campaign famously created the "Daisy" ad to highlight Goldwater's willingness to use nuclear weapons in conflicts like Vietnam. 

But Trump's opponents are now flocking to another, lesser-known LBJ ad called "Confessions of a Republican," which features an actor expressing the conflicted feelings that many Republicans had at the time. 

"This man scares me," the actor says of Goldwater. "So many men with strange ideas are working for Goldwater. You'll hear a lot about what these guys are against. They seem to be against just about everything. But what are they for?" 

The stand-in for moderate Republicans then says he wishes he'd fought harder against Goldwater's nomination at the Republican Convention, a tense gathering that ended with Goldwater taking 67.5 percent of the delegates and securing the party's slot in the November election against Johnson.

The video has been in heavy circulation this week thanks largely to digital publisher Quartz, whose subtitled and autoplay-friendly version of the long-form ad has been viewed more than 11 million times on Facebook.

Goldwater was trounced in the general election, as Johnson secured the biggest margin of victory by any president since James Monroe's re-election in 1820. 

Obviously, Trump's opponents—at least the Democratic ones—are hoping for a similar result this November, though it's hard to draw too many parallels between the 1964 and 2016 races. Johnson was already in the Oval Office, and his party was impassioned by the recent assassination of his predecessor, John F. Kennedy. Goldwater was also running at a time when there were many more moderate and even liberal Republicans than there are today. 

Still, watching the video, it's easy to see how this year's Democratic candidate might try to leverage the rift among Republicans who feel Trump could be the next Goldwater.

@griner David Griner is creative and innovation editor at Adweek and host of Adweek's podcast, "Yeah, That's Probably an Ad."