“Bombs Away” Tackles LBJ, Goldwater and 1964 Election

Ushered in age of negative campaign ads, highlighted by “Daisy” spot


Marking the 50th anniversary of the groundbreaking 1964 presidential campaign, the University of Virginia Center for Politics and Community Idea Stations have released the first trailer for their latest documentary, Bombs Away: LBJ, Goldwater and the 1964 Campaign that Changed It All. Scheduled for nationwide and international release later this fall, the one-hour documentary looks back at a presidential election that not only redefined both political parties but also ushered in a new age of highly negative television advertising.

The documentary will be released nationwide beginning Nov. 1, 2014, and will air on PBS stations across the country. It will also be offered to other affiliated networks around the world.

Directed by Paul Tait Roberts, Bombs Away examines the 1964 presidential contest between President Lyndon Johnson and Sen. Barry Goldwater. Polarized by very different personalities and ideologies, Johnson and Goldwater attacked each other with gusto — and in the process opened the door to a modern era of campaigning that features highly negative TV advertising campaigns.

Bombs Away is the latest documentary produced by the U.Va. Center for Politics and Community Idea Stations, which regularly partner to produce documentary films for public television on American politics and history. The last two documentaries produced by the pair won Emmy Awards from the Capital Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences: 2013’s The Kennedy Half Century, which explored President Kennedy’s life and legacy, and 2012’s Out of Order, which examined partisan polarization in Washington.