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October 5, 2012

The Root: 7 of history's most racist political ads

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Untitled, 1968

Considering he was one of the most notorious segregationists in American politics, this ad by Alabama Gov. George Wallace is fairly tame as far as ads by avowed racists go. But then again, Wallace was running for president, so he knew he had to temper his language to appeal to those Americans who did not use the n-word as a catchall phrase for black Americans. Instead, Wallace talks about harmless sounding ideas like "states' rights." You may find yourself asking, States' rights to do what? Surprise, surprise, he's talking about states' rights to enforce policies like segregation. Well, at least he didn't use the n-word, so we guess he deserves credit for that.

"Give Me Your Cash, B****," 2011

This ad is so racist and over the top that if the world's raunchiest comedian and the Ku Klux Klan had been asked to weigh in before it was posted, they both probably would have said, "Crosses the line." This is most likely why this low-budget ad targeting Democratic congressional candidate Janice Hahn was relegated to the Web. It created quite a splash -- and quite a backlash with its gangbanging rappers surrounded by strippers delivering profanity-laced, misogyny-laden lyrics all in the name of politics. But the backlash turned out to be one of the best things to happen to the Hahn campaign. She won and is currently serving in Congress.

"Welcome Prize," 2010

Considering U.S. Sen. David Vitter managed to survive a prostitution scandal, despite running for office as a social conservative, it shouldn't come as a surprise that he knows how to fight hard -- and fight dirty if necessary for his political survival. His campaign demonstrated this with a series of blistering ads against his 2010 opponent, former Rep. Charlie Melancon. While Melancon probably found most of them offensive, the Hispanic community likely took particular offense at this ad, which, in an effort to vilify illegal immigrants, reinforces appalling stereotypes of all Latinos.

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Keli Goff is The Root's political correspondent.

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