Jim Messina and “the single most infamous congressional ad in contemporary history”

The Conservatives have hired Barack Obama’s election strategist Jim Messina to advise on their 2015 general election campaign. The Guardian describes it as “a coup for the Tory team to have been able to hire a strategist who proved such a vital figure in Obama’s presidential campaigns in both 2008 and 2012.”

Those unfamiliar with Mr Messina’s work can watch an example of his kind of ad below. It’s from the 2002 Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee race between Max Baucus and Montana Republican Senate nominee Mike Taylor, and has been described by Salon.com as “the single most infamous congressional ad in contemporary history”:

Renowned in political circles, the ad set porno music to 20-year-old footage of a video from Taylor’s cosmetics business. The video showed Taylor in a leisure suit rubbing cream into another man’s face. As the spot faded to black, it showed Taylor then seeming to reach for the man’s crotch as a voice-over said “Mike Taylor — not the way we do business in Montana.”

Thanks to the deliberate choice of music, the footage of man-on-man physical contact and the voice-over message, the ad is considered the epitome of homophobic demagoguery — a spot ostensibly about Taylor’s Department of Education loans, but really designed to raise questions about Taylor’s sexuality in a culturally conservative state. Summarizing the national uproar over the ad, the Denver Post at the time noted that “only the most naive adult would miss the implication that Taylor is a homosexual” and that clearly “the supposedly inclusive Democrats deftly played on the right’s homophobia.”

Here’s the ad

Taylor dropped out of the race straight afterwards and Baucus was elected unopposed. Baucus denied any responsibility for the ad — as did his chief of staff, Jim Messina. But fast-forward 10 years, to 2012, and Baucus was a little less self-denying:

“Jim is tough,” Baucus says. “I’ll never forget when he showed me that ad. We were in Bozeman in a motel. The curtains were drawn. He said, ‘Max, what do you think?’ They were afraid I wasn’t going to like it. I loved it!”

I’m sure he and the Tory party will be very happy together.

Hat-tip: Mark Pack – New Tory campaign advisor Jim Messina and his “anti-gay secret” as Salon.com puts it.

* Stephen was Editor (and Co-Editor) of Liberal Democrat Voice from May 2007 to Jan 2015, and writes at The Collected Stephen Tall.

Read more by or more about or .
This entry was posted in LDVUSA and YouTube.
Bookmark the web address for this page or use the short url http://ldv.org.uk/35606 for Twitter and emails.


  • Going from Obama to the Tories…its like when Bruno worked for Vinick against Santos…

  • Clear Thinker 6th Aug '13 - 9:06am

    Are you sure you’ve got the right ad? I didn’t see anyone grabbing anyone’s crotch, and what on earth is “porno music”?

Post a Comment

Lib Dem Voice welcomes comments from everyone but we ask you to be polite, to be on topic and to be who you say you are. You can read our comments policy in full here. Please respect it and all readers of the site.

If you are a member of the party, you can have the Lib Dem Logo appear next to your comments to show this. You must be registered for our forum and can then login on this public site with the same username and password.

Your email is never published. Required fields are marked *

Please complete the name of this site, Liberal Democrat ...?


Recent Comments

  • User AvatarAdam Boyden 27th Nov - 3:18pm
    This is very good to see Tim. The Govt need to be much more responsible for where our weapons of war end up, and who...
  • User AvatarHelen Dudden 27th Nov - 3:12pm
    The new MP for Bath Ben Howlett has just donated his pay rise to the homeless and hungry children, that's a positive start. Are any...
  • User Avatarnvelope2003 27th Nov - 3:10pm
    Labour has been increasing its vote in by elections in the South and South East
  • User AvatarPHIL THOMAS 27th Nov - 3:06pm
    Looks like Labour are in melt down in Oldham. I suspect UKIP are likely to squeeze all the anti Corbyn votes. Watch out for a...
  • User AvatarEddie Sammon 27th Nov - 2:41pm
    The security industry is nearly all against airstrikes. From what I can see. They don't suggest many alternatives though. There is a lot of outrage...
  • User AvatarRuth Bright 27th Nov - 2:34pm
    It is completely wrong to accuse Tim of being tokenistic or putting patients at risk. The current rules are discriminatory and limit the supply of...