Campaign Slogans and Symbols
15 artifacts in this set
The clock face on this button refers to the most contentious issue of the 1896 election--the proposal to mint an unlimited quantity of silver coinage at a value of 1/16 that of gold in order to boost the economy. Clocks set at 12:44 symbolized the 16 to one ration. McKinley, who supported maintaining the gold standard, won the election.
As symbolized by the suitcase, the Order of United Commercial Travelers of America backed William Howard Taft for President in 1908. Why? Secretary of War Taft had just traveled more than any other cabinet member for President Roosevelt, including several voyages around the world, supervising the Panama Canal construction, and overseeing U.S. interests in the Philippines and Cuba.
Decorative aftermarket hood ornaments or mascots came in a wide variety of styles and prices in the early 20th century. The "Keep Cool-idge" slogan connected with Calvin Coolidge's 1924 campaign promise of maintaining the status quo during the country's booming economy. It also related to keeping the car's temperature cool, as this hood ornament doubled as a radiator cap.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt won an unprecedented four presidential elections. Elected in 1932, during the depths of the Great Depression, Roosevelt served until his death in 1945 near the end of World War Two. This slogan, from the 1936 election, focused on the portrayal of FDR as a “gallant” national leader who had saved the country from economic collapse.
Dwight D. Eisenhower's "I Like Ike" slogan of 1952 was one of the most successful slogans in American political history. The slogan first appeared as "They Like Ike" in Irving Berlin's musical, "Call Me Madam," in 1950. Market research revealed that American felt comfortable with and trusted Eisenhower and the slogan stuck. At the time, cigarettes symbolized glamour and sophistication.
Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater ran for president in 1964. Some of his campaign pieces employed this scientific abbreviation to promote the candidacy. "Au" is the periodical table symbol for "gold" and H2O is the chemical formula for "water." Put them together and they form "Goldwater." It's clever--but he still lost in a landslide to incumbent President Lyndon Johnson.
Richard M. Nixon was a three-time Republican Party presidential nominee. In 1960, he narrowly lost to John F. Kennedy--and it appeared his political career was over. In 1968, however, as TV news depicted grim images of war and violence, this slogan assured voters that they could turn to Nixon as a capable and trustworthy leader. Nixon won the election.
Vice President Hubert Humphrey won the contentious 1968 Democratic Party presidential nomination. Humphrey entered the campaign only after the surprising withdrawal of President Lyndon Johnson from the race. The candidate’s repeating initials “HHH”--for Hubert Horatio Humphrey--were used in many campaign pieces. His initials alone were so catchy and understood that they needed no more explanation.
President Richard Nixon touted his foreign and domestic policy achievements in his 1972 reelection run. "Nixon Now" -- the Republican campaign slogan -- urged voters to reelect the president. They did in a landslide. Popular support waned however when news leaked out about White House involvement in the cover-up of the Watergate break-in. Two years after his landslide victory, the president was forced to resign.
In 1976, Democratic candidate Jimmy Carter endeared himself to many potential voters by using the symbols of the humble peanut--denoting his family peanut farm in Georgia--and his toothy grin, which his supporters felt appeared genuine and down to earth. This pro-Gerald Ford button turned the peanut symbol into a negative appeal against Carter.
President Ronald Reagan's political legacy looms large, especially among Republican presidential candidates. In June 2004, the former President passed away. President George W. Bush, in a heated reelection battle against Democratic Senator John Kerry, used the Reagan legacy to solidify Republican support. This slogan -- referencing Reagan's popular nickname taken from one of the actor-turned-politician's film roles (George Gipp in Knute...
Democrat presidential nominee, Senator Barack Obama, campaigned on themes of "Hope" and "Change." These positive messages spoke to an American public beset by years of conflict in Iraq and reeling from a recent financial crisis. These twin themes also reflected Americans' belief in an inclusive multicultural society. In November 2008, voters elected Obama -- the first African American president of the United States.
Arizona Senator John McCain was the 2008 Republican Party's presidential nominee. Republican campaign material touted the political experience of this long-serving member of the Senate over that of his opponent, Illinois Senator Barack Obama. (Obama had served less than one term.) McCain, as this button reminded voters, was ready to serve from day one.
In 2008, Democrat Barack Obama ran against Republican John McCain for the presidency of the United States. The Obama campaign used "Yes We Can" as their optimistic rallying cry. The slogan was plastered on a wide array of campaign materials. "Yes We Can" reflected the themes of "Hope" and "Change" that brought about the election of America's first African American president.
Arizona Senator John McCain was the 2008 Republican Party's presidential nominee. At first, Republican campaign material touted the political experience of this long-serving member of the Senate. But when McCain was accused of offering "more of the same," he and running mate Sarah Palin revised their approach to convince voters that they actually embodied change. Nevertheless Obama won the election.