“When the head of the Ku Klux Klan, when all these weird groups come out in favor for the candidate of my party, either they’re not Republicans or I’m not,” says the thoughtful-looking man as he stares into the camera.
You wouldn’t be at fault for assuming such a line was used to describe the existential crisis within the Republican party today, as it wrestles with the very real prospect of Donald Trump becoming its presidential nominee. But it’s actually a direct quote from “Confessions of a Republican,” a 1964 television advertisement attacking then–nominee Barry Goldwater. It features an actor playing a lifelong Republican who struggles to come to terms with the Arizona senator’s rise.
The classic campaign ad has resurfaced today because of its eerie parallels to the 2016 election and the increasingly likely chance that Trump will secure the GOP nomination.
“This man scares me,” the man in the ad says. “Now maybe I’m wrong. A friend of mine said to me, ‘Listen, just because a man sounds a little irresponsible during a campaign doesn’t mean he’s going to act irresponsibly.’ You know, that theory that the White House makes the man—I don’t buy that.”
For nearly five minutes the actor ponders the implications of his party’s nominee, regretting that he did not go to the San Francisco convention and oppose him. He concluded by urging Republican support of the Democratic candidate, Lyndon Johnson.
“I think my party made a bad mistake in San Francisco, and I’m going to have to vote against that mistake on the third of November.”
That’s probably where the parallels to today end.