Presidential Campaign Slogans Featuring Opponent

Hillary Clinton’s campaign for president features the side glancing blow at her opponent Donald Trimp, with the campaign slogan “Love trumps hate” sometimes capitalized “LOVE TRUMPS HATE”, but surely reminding the voting public of the existence of your opponent is a bad move? How has this tactic been used in the past, and what was the result?

Love Trumps Hate, a slogan of the Hillary campaign.

Love Trumps Hate, a slogan of the Hillary campaign.

Previous use of the opponents name in campaign slogans has usually had less potential for puns… In 1844 Henry Clay ran with the slogan “Who is James K. Polk”, the campaign resulted in election of James Polk, who was a dark horse candidate appointed as a result of a split democratic convention. This slogan elevated the relatively unknown Polk who won the election!

In 1884 both Presidential campaigns made reference to the other. Grover Cleveland ran with “Blaine, Blaine, James G. Blaine, The Continental Liar from the State of Maine”, while James Blaine accused that Grover had an illegitimate child in Buffalo NY with the slogan “Ma, Ma, Where’s my Pa?”. The race resulted in a close result for Grover Cleveland.

Vote Cox and Cocktails -- presidential campaign slogan used by Warren G. Harding in 1920.

Vote Cox and Cocktails — presidential campaign slogan used by Warren G. Harding in 1920.

In 1920 Warren G. Harding made reference to his anti-Prohibition candidate “Cox and Cocktails” and still managed to win the campaign, presumably his over slogan “A return to normalcy” was a lot more appealing at the time. Warren G. Harding won the campaign but died in office (reputably his drinking was a factor) and Calvin Cooleridge become president.

According to this list I found on the internet all three of these slogans are among the top ten worst campaign slogans of all time. It seems it is still possible to win if you mention your opponent, as shown by Harding. However the result from the Clay/ Polk election shows the danger this tactic presents, if you are better known it would be a mistake to make a campaign about your opponent if you fail to make a positive case for yourself.

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