The Quick 10: 10 Campaign Slogans of the Past

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At this point, we're all pretty overloaded on "Yes We Can," "Change You Can Believe In," "Straight Talk," and "Country First." But do you remember Herbert Hoover's slogan? How about FDR? Let's take a break from Straight Talk and Change and revisit some slogans that helped the candidate move into the White House.

1. "A Chicken in Every Pot and a Car in Every Garage." That was Herbert Hoover's promise, which he obviously wasn't able to deliver. There was also the lesser known, "Hoover and Happiness or Smith and Soup Houses."

2. "A Return to Normalcy" maybe doesn't sound like the most thrilling campaign slogan, but when you consider that it was Warren G. Harding's commitment to people just coming out of WWI, it probably sounded pretty good. Harding was also the first candidate to rely on the power of Hollywood - his backers included Al Jolson, Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks. For those not into the old Hollywood scene, Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks would be the equivalent of having Brad and Angelina back your campaign today.

3. "Are You Better Off Today Than You Were Four Years Ago?" A compelling question by Ronald Reagan. Jimmy Carter's approval ratings were terrible, so this question really hit where it hurt.

eleanor4. "Better a Third-Termer Than a Third-Rater." This, of course, belonged to FDR. As did this one: "Two good terms deserve another." FDR'S 1940 campaign against Willkie was pretty heated, actually, and the two of them were trotting out humorous barbs on a nearly weekly basis.

5. "Tippecanoe and Tyler too." I remember the slogan (although it was a song first), but I can never remember who actually used it. If you're like me, here you go: It was William Henry Harrison's. When he led an army of more than 1,000 men into battle against the Shawnee and came out the victor, he soon became known as "Old Tip," because the battle had taken place next to the Wabash and Tippecanoe rivers. Reminding voters of his supposed war prowess must have worked, because Harrison was elected in 1840.

sunflower6. "Sunflowers Die in November." It doesn't have much to do with issues, but it's clever: FDR used this slogan in '36 against his opponent, Kansas governor Alf Landon. The Kansas state flower? The sunflower, of course.

7. "It is not best to swap horses while crossing the river." Heard that one before? Like, about four years ago? Well, it was "borrowed" from one of the best - Abraham Lincoln. He used it while campaigning for his second term in 1864.

8. "Vote as You Shot!" Ulysses S. Grant supporters made no bones about it - if you were on the Union side in the war, you'd better be voting for him.

9. "Grandfather's Hat Fits Ben." Who else could this be but Benjamin Harrison, the grandson of Old Tip himself? And maybe the hat did fit, but only for four years - after one term, Ben was voted out of office in favor of the man who had also preceded him - Grover Cleveland.

10. "Would You Buy a Used Car From This Man?" Ha. It may not have been JFK's main slogan (he also used "A Time for Greatness" and "We Can Do Better"), but it's definitely the funniest. His camp used a picture of Nixon glowering and looking particularly smarmy along with that slogan. Brilliant.

October 8, 2008 - 10:23am
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