Anti-war group revives 'Daisy' ad, hoping to sway public against attack

By IAN STEWART, Associated Press Writer

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Revisiting a jarring television commercial from the Cold War era, a grass-roots anti-war group has remade the 1964 "Daisy" ad, warning that a war against Iraq could spark nuclear Armageddon.

Like the original, the 30-second ad by the Internet-based group depicts a girl plucking petals from a daisy -- along with a missile launch countdown and a nuclear mushroom cloud.

The original ad was produced by President Johnson's campaign to paint his Republican rival, Barry Goldwater, as an extremist who might lead the United States to a nuclear war with the Soviet Union. The ad created such negative reaction that it was pulled after only one showing, but Johnson went on to a landslide victory. released its version to the media Wednesday and was to air the ad Thursday in 13 major U.S. cities at a cost of $400,000.

Its ad includes scenes of military escalation before the mushroom cloud appears. Then the screen goes black, with a warning that a war might end quickly -- or it might spread to other countries and end with "the unthinkable."

The ad ends with the message: "Maybe that's why the overwhelming majority of Americans say to President Bush: Let the inspections work."'s leaders hope the ad will persuade more Americans to oppose a military solution in Iraq.

"We wanted to run an ad that would highlight that very real possibility (of nuclear war) and help encourage a national discussion," said Eli Pariser,'s international campaign director.

Some media experts were skeptical the ad would sway public opinion.

"It's more of a news ad designed to get media attention," said Kathleen Hall Jamieson, the dean of the Annenberg School of Communication at the University of Pennsylvania.

Barbara O'Connor, director of California State University's Institute for the Study of Politics and the Media, added that viewers may tune out the horrific images., founded in San Francisco in 1998 to lobby against the impeachment of President Clinton, also has organized an online signature campaign against the war, and last month spent more than $300,000 on newspaper ads urging President Bush to avoid war.

Another version of the Daisy ad aired toward the end of the 2000 presidential campaign. Funded by an anonymous group, it accused the Democratic Clinton-Gore administration of giving away nuclear technology to China in exchange for campaign contributions. The ad was pulled the day it began airing at the request of Republican candidate George W. Bush's campaign.

The new ad was to be shown in Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Dallas, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Portland, Oregon, San Francisco and Seattle.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)