South Dakota and the state's historic connection to nuclear missiles and launch sites are playing a starring role in a national presidential campaign advertisement that Democrat Hillary Clinton has launched against Republican challenger Donald Trump.
In the campaign advertisement reportedly set at "Ellsworth Missile Site," former launch control officer Bruce G. Blair speaks gravely about the seriousness of his old job.
"If the president gave the order, we had to launch the missiles," Blair says in the ad. "That would be it. I prayed that call would never come. Self-control may be all that keeps these missiles from flying."
The ad that debuted on Oct. 1 then cuts to clips of Republican nominee Trump speaking about behaving unpredictably and his eagerness to use weapons against enemies, before Blair adds his fear of the nominee.
"The thought of Donald Trump with nuclear weapons scares me to death," Blair said. "It should scare everyone."
The ad, titled "Silo," was filmed at Launch Control Facility Delta-01, the site 60 miles east of Ellsworth Air Force Base that served as Ellsworth's missile control site.
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From 1972 to 1974, Blair was a launch control officer at Malmstorm Air Force Base in Great Falls, Mont., which he says was exactly like Ellsworth's decommissioned site. Blair is a nuclear security expert and research scholar at the Program of Science and Nuclear Society at Princeton University, and he specializes in technical and policy steps toward the elimination of nuclear weapons. He spoke to the Rapid City Journal last week.
Blair said he agreed to appear in the ad after the Clinton campaign read his Politico piece and invited him to participate.
The ad was shot at Delta-01, now a part of the National Park Service as Minuteman Missile National Historic Site. Park Superintendent Eric Leonard said the fact that filming on the site was for a political campaign did not factor into the decision to let them film.
"The National Park Service has a longstanding special use permit policy across all parks," Leonard said. "The advertising company that handled that ad applied for a permit and met our restrictions and requirements."
Leonard said the major concern of the NPS was to make sure the resource was preserved and that staff was present to monitor the filming to make sure the resource was adequately protected.
"This is the second commercial filming permit in the past year we've had at the park," Leonard said. "The other was Ozzy Osbourne, who was present about a year ago for something that showed on the History Channel this summer."