Donald Trump

Ted Cruz's New ‘Eminent Domain' Ad Lets Kids Dump on Trump

Some of the best known political ads of all time have featured kids, including Reagan's "Morning in America"

A playful new political attack ad that compares Donald Trump to a child joins a long tradition of using kids to make a point in a presidential race.

Called "Playing Trump," Sen. Ted Cruz's ad features three boys playing with a Trump action figure who "pretends to be a Republican," listing Democratic politicians that Trump has supposedly supported: "Hey Hillary, I'll give you money to be my friend," one says.

It culminates with one boy, imitating Trump, telling a woman he's taking her "lousy" house using eminent domain, and the boys gleefully destroying a doll house as two terrified parents look on.

"We wouldn't tolerate these values in our children. Why would we want them in a president?" the narrator concludes.

Trump's campaign didn't respond for a request for comment, though Trump did tweet Friday that if Cruz didn't stop "doing negative ads, I have standing to sue him for not being a natural born citizen."

Some of the best known ads of all time have featured children, including "Daisy," which President Lyndon B. Johnson used to cast doubt on his 1964 opponent Barry Goldwater's ability to wield American military power.

That ad opened with a girl in a field counting the petals of a daisy. The ad moved to a close-up of her face as a military-sounding countdown tracked back to 0, before a bomb exploded into a mushroom cloud. "These are the stakes," Johnson said.

According to one political observer, the new Cruz ad is notable for letting the kids do the mudslinging, rather than merely pointing out the stakes in political spats.

"Children were not used to attack in the past," professor Kathleen Hall Jamieson, director of the University of Pennsylvania's Annenberg Public Policy Center told NBC Owned Television Networks. 

Jamieson said older political ads featuring children fall into two categories. Some show that the United States is vulnerable, including "Daisy" and a 1984 Walter Mondale ad in which the song "Teach Your Children" played over footage of missiles launching.

Others serve to show the president as part of a family, whether his own - as Franklin D. Roosevelt and George H. W. Bush did - or the broader American family, as Ronald Reagan did in his famous 1984 "Morning in America" ad. Reagan's ad prominently featured children looking up at an American flag being raised.

The Cruz ad, with more than 236,000 views on YouTube, leaves almost all the talking to the children. Whether it gets its message across across is another question. 

"The diction in the ad is pretty bad, making it unlikely that the `message' (such that it is) will get across," said Stanford political science professor Shanto Iyengar in an e-mail.

Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly identified which school hosts the Annenberg Public Policy Center.

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