Roger Ailes on Michael Dukakis: 'We Took an Air Strike into His Base'


Roger Ailes' most infamous attack ad from the 1988 campaign is the "Revolving Door"/Willie Horton spot I write about at length in my profile of the Fox News chairman.

There were two other ads that defined Ailes attack on Michael Dukakis in that campaign. One featured Dukakis perched like a Greek Leprechaun atop an M1 Abrams tank. But taking advantage of the Democrat's failed photo-op didn't take much ingenuity; it's the third ad – "Harbor"– that helps us get inside of Ailes' mind as a political operative.

"He had us on plant closings," Ailes recalled shortly after the campaign. "So we took an air strike into his base on the environment. He immediately reacted, immediately defending environment and attacking us on environment. Frankly, that was an issue we could afford to lose because liberals always get the environment in the end. It didn't matter. We felt as long as the argument was on issues that were good for us — crime, national defense — that if we controlled the agenda and stayed on our issues, by the end we would do all right."

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