It's hard to say which one is worse: Jeb Bush's newest "Jeb Can Fix It" slogan, or the more concise, playful "Jeb!" Stephen Colbert seemed to think the latter pretty laugh-worthy, teasing Bush about the exclamation mark back in September. Bush's response? "It connotes excitement," the Republican candidate told the late-night host. Clearly the single-word method didn't quite do the job in getting voters excited because Bush decided this week to go another route entirely with his "Jeb Can Fix It" motto. Jeb Bush hasn't been the only one to struggle with brainstorming an effective campaign slogan that wasn't totally ridiculous: though the list of sloppy slogans is pretty much endless, here's eight more of the worst presidential campaign slogans.
If you've been enjoying your last 48 hours rating the funniest memes on Bush's latest attempt at a great campaign slogan, it appears presidential campaign mottoes actually got better with the passing of time. Yes, I did say better, implying that candidates have a history of being pretty clueless when it comes to one-liners. So don't get meme'd out on Bush slogan jokes just yet, since there's plenty of material from election campaigns past just asking to get turned into the next viral image. And we're taking it back to the mid-19th century to prove it to you.
1. Franklin Pierce, "We Polked You In '44, We Shall Pierce You In '52"
Did the Facebook team get inspiration for the site's poking feature from this slogan? Pierce decided to go all-out creep on this one from 1852. It's unclear how Pierce thought this statement would, in any way at all, attract voters. Pierce was friends with Polk and campaigned for him in the 1844 election, making the one-liner kinda logical in that sense, but that definitely doesn't mean American citizens want to be poked or pierced.
2. John Fremont, "Free Soil, Free Labor, Free Speech, Free Men, Fremont"
I understand what 1856 Republican party candidate John Fremont was trying to do here, but I'll put it out there that this one is a bit much. Or I could just say Fremont and his campaign team went entirely overboard. While the team was trying to stress Fremont's anti-slavery platform with the phrase (and it was definitely successful at emphasizing this point), could Fremont have realistically provided all of these things? So much. All for free. Fremont lost, so the American people must have thought it too good to be true as well.
3. Alfred Landon, "Let's Make It A Landon-Slide"
My personal favorite. A time in history when really corny puns must have been accepted, the Republican Party candidate truly went for it in 1936. Playing off the idea of a landslide victory, Landon couldn't help himself but promote a motto that simultaneously included his surname and begged the American people to come out in droves to vote for him. The slogan didn't have the hoped-for effect: Landon got a whopping eight electoral votes to FDR's 523 votes.
4. Wendell Willkie, "Roosevelt For Ex-President"
Ever heard of Wendell Willkie? Yeah, I hadn't either, and this sad excuse for a slogan could well be the reason Willkie never made it to the White House. The 1940 Republican presidential candidate must not have been in his right mind when he decided to promote a slogan that used his opponent's name and had absolutely nothing to do with Willkie himself. Thankfully, the man had some reasonable back-ups, like "Win With Willkie." If he had kept it to this motto, maybe he would have.
5. Ross Perot, "Ross For Boss"
I feel like Perot would actually get a lot of bros on board his campaign if he ran today with this slogan. And that's all that really needs to be said about that.
6. Barack Obama, "Forward"
Obama's 2008 mottoes were on point: "Yes We Can," "Change We Can Believe In," and "Hope" were the big ones. Voters really responded to the catch phrases and provided President Obama a whole lot of momentum in the months before the election. His 2012 slogan, "Forward," felt a bit lazy, though. Sure — one-word mottoes like "Hope" and "Change" worked four years earlier — but Americans were a bit disappointed by the lack of monumental change that happened in those four years. So a simple "Forward," while enough to keep President Obama in the White House, just wasn't up to snuff.
7. Dwight D. Eisenhower, "I Still Like Ike"
Eisenhower. Dear Eisenhower. This slogan from 1956 wins the then-incumbent points in only one area: total and complete lack of creativity. If you're into poetry, the phrase has got rhyme and assonance. That's undeniable. But Eisenhower was banking on the nice pairing of "like" and "Ike" to work for him multiple times, since his 1952 slogan was the ever-so-similar "I Like Ike." Ike did stay in the White House for a second term, but no A for effort on the campaign trail.
8. Harry S. Truman, "I'm Just Wild About Harry"
Truman deserves credit for being clever about this 1948 slogan: The phrase was borrowed from a popular song's title. The tune, which came out in 1921, goes: "I'm just wild about Harry, and Harry's wild about me." The choice is a bit too pop culture for a presidential campaign, though. Are the American people getting ready to go on a date with Harry Truman? No, they're trying to find out if he's fit to run the country.