Campaign 2000: In The Stretch: And Now for the Nasty Stuff

The music is ominous, the footage grainy: a pickup truck with Texas plates, a chain tied to the bumper, something unseen hooked to the other end as the truck pulls away. The voice is that of James Byrd Jr.'s daughter, recalling her father's 1998 death and George W. Bush's refusal to back a new hate-crimes bill. The kicker: "We won't be dragged away from our future."

Lee Atwater, the late maestro of hardball politics, had rules about down-and-dirty campaign advertising, among them this: if you have to do it, do it late. So right on schedule, gut-punching ads hit the airwaves...

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