"Hands", sometimes known as "White Hands", is a controversial political advertisement aired on television during the 1990 United States Senate election in North Carolina by incumbent Jesse Helms' political campaign, criticizing his opponent, Harvey Gantt for being in favor of racial quotas. The advertisement is considered to be an important factor in Helms' narrow victory over Gantt. It was written and produced by Alex Castellanos.
The advertisement shows the hands of a white man in a plaid shirt reading and then crumpling up a job rejection letter, while a voiceover says "You needed that job, and you were the best qualified. But they had to give it to a minority because of a racial quota. Is that really fair?" The advert compared Helms to Gantt by saying that Gantt was "for racial quotas" while Helms was against them.
Adding to the controversy, the ad was found to contain subliminal messaging. When the white pair of hands crumples up the letter, for a fraction of a second the letter fades to a picture of Gant and the hands appear to be crushing his head.
- 30 Second Candidate "Hands", Retrieved February 28, 2016
- Jamieson, Kathleen Hall (1993). Dirty Politics: Deception, Distraction, and Democracy. New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 97 – 100.