Hillary Clinton as Ted Kennedy

The latest ad from John McCain’s campaign seeks to widen and exploit lingering divisions among Democrats from this year’s primary campaign with clips of Hillary Clinton taking shots Barack Obama. As Marc Ambinder points out, the exact message is rather convoluted and contradictory—the ad suggests Clinton was not offered the vice presidency because she spoke “the truth” about Obama during the primaries, but (as the McCain campaign notes in a separate ad) Joe Biden also criticized Obama during the primaries.

Even so, the tactic is hardly new. After the similarly divisive 1980 Democratic primary campaign, which culminated in Ted Kennedy’s refusal to link arms with Jimmy Carter at the New York convention, Ronald Reagan’s campaign used some of Kennedy’s harshest words about Carter in this fall ad.