Slam-dunk slogans

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

While today's presidential slogans are mostly indistinguishable combinations of the words "America," "leader" and "change," that certainly wasn't always the case. Here are 10 of the greatest.

1. Voters didn't know much about 1852 Democrat nominee Franklin Pierce, so he cast himself as the rightful heir to popular ex-president James K. Polk with this pun of a slogan: "We Polked You in '44, We Shall Pierce You in '52."

2. In 1860, Abraham Lincoln ran for the White House under the slogan "Vote Yourself a Farm" -- a bold promise to give settlers free land throughout the West. To his credit, Lincoln followed through and signed the Homestead Act in 1862.

3. Back in 1868, General Ulysses S. Grant rode his Civil War victories into the White House with the slogan "Vote As You Shot" -- a direct order to Union voters to toe the Republican line.

4. The award for quickest about-face goes to Woodrow Wilson, who campaigned for re-election in 1916 with the motto "He Kept Us Out of War." Five months later, Wilson led the country into World War I.

5. In Prohibition-era 1920, Democratic nominee James M. Cox believed making alcohol illegal only benefited criminals and bootleggers. Opponent Warren G. Harding ridiculed him with the slogan "Cox and Cocktails." Ironically, victor Harding was well-known to enjoy stiff drinks in the comfort of the White House.

6. Kansas Gov. Alfred Landon emphasized his heartland roots during the 1936 election by adorning his campaign paraphernalia with bright yellow sunflowers. In response, opponent Franklin Roosevelt pointed out that "Sunflowers Die in November." He was right; Landon won just two states.

7. FDR's unprecedented bid for a third term incited backlash among those who felt it was time to move on. Republican opponent Wendell Willkie stamped his campaign buttons with the slogan "Roosevelt for Ex-President."

8. Republican nominee Barry Goldwater inspired a legion of impassioned conservatives in 1964 with his slogan "In Your Heart, You Know He's Right." But Lyndon Johnson's Democratic campaign came up with a response that more effectively branded Goldwater as a right-wing extremist: "In Your Guts, You Know He's Nuts."

9. After unexpectedly winning the 1976 Democratic primary, Georgia Gov. Jimmy Carter created the slogan "Not Just Peanuts" to stress his humble roots as a peanut farmer and also prove that he was a candidate to take seriously.

10. Barack Obama's not the first Democrat to try the "Change" approach. Walter Mondale campaigned in 1984 with the slogan "America Needs a Change." Unfortunately for Mondale, America disagreed -- 49 states voted for incumbent Ronald Reagan.

Adapted from mental_floss magazine, which is available at leading bookstores and newsstands. For a daily dose of quirky fun, visit