So, what is President Obama’s slogan this campaign? You don’t know, do you? How about Mitt Romney’s? Bet you didn’t know that one either. The answer is “Forward” for Obama and “Believe in America” for Romney — and neither has the kind of pop that Obama got from “Hope and Change” back in 2008.
In just a couple of words that phrase summed up and symbolized who Obama was in that campaign and what he would do as President. But after four tough years, that slogan sounds tired.
And President Obama has known he needs a new slogan this time around — something that captures in a few words who he is and what he would do as a second term as President. He told me as much in this interview that I did with him on Yahoo.
But, the truth is slogans may not matter all that much.
Richard Nixon’s lame 1972 slogan, “Now More Than Ever, ” didn’t stop him from a landslide in 1972. How about Lincoln’s “Vote Yourself a Farm?” That doesn’t really convey the kind of heroism and sweep that marked his presidency. But my personal favorite, “Keep Cool with Coolidge,” that didn’t signal much of a presidency at all.
But the act of creating and sticking with a good slogan is good discipline for a campaign; it crystallizes what the campaign is trying to say. That certainly worked for those of us on the 1992 Clinton campaign. Our informal slogan, of course, came from James Carville — “It’s the Economy Stupid” — and that drove home what the campaign was about and what we would schedule every day on the campaign trail.
It was reinforced by the candidate himself who said, time and time again, you had to be able to hone down the campaign’s message from a 30 minute speech to 10 minutes to 5 minutes to 1 minute and right down to a bumper sticker. So, a slogan does help give organization and cohesion to a campaign.
So far, neither campaign this year has come up with a magic slogan and a silver bullet. My two favorites, though, are Joe Biden’s, ‘Bin Laden is Dead, GM is Alive’ for the Obama campaign and Romney’s ‘Obama isn’t Working.’ Those crystallize the message in just a few words.
Can any of you do better? Tell us your slogan suggestions below.