Americans got a bizarre dose of déjà vu on Monday night when the GOP released an image of President Donald Trump with the message "stronger together." Commentators quickly pointed out that the mantra matched that of his 2016 presidential opponent, and on Tuesday, Hillary Clinton criticized Trump for copying her campaign slogan.
"Now copy my plan on health care, a fairer tax system, and voting rights," Clinton wrote on Twitter. She included a link to the 2016 campaign website that outlined her platform and policy proposals.
According to The Hill, Trump used the phrase during his rally in El Paso, Texas on Monday, telling the audience, "We're only getting stronger together." Shortly after the event, the GOP tweeted out an image of his face onto which they had superimposed the quote.
Clinton made "stronger together" her main 2016 campaign slogan after introducing the phrase around the time of the Democratic primary. Her campaign press secretary, Brian Fallon, told NPR at the time that it was meant to counter Trump's divisive rhetoric and his insistence that "I alone can fix" the United States' challenges. Clinton and her running mate, Tim Kaine, even published a book titled Stronger Together months before losing the election.
The GOP regularly releases promotional material for Trump (he's been officially running for reelection since the day of his inauguration). Last month, the Republican National Committee (RNC) voted to give him "undivided support" in the 2020 race rather than work to primary him with another GOP candidate. Because the committee's new image looks a bit like a campaign poster, Clinton's former deputy national press secretary, Jesse Ferguson, tweeted on Monday: "Trump's 2020 slogan is Stronger Together? Um, my head hurts."
He wasn't the only one to notice the parallel, either. "'Stronger together' was literally Hillary's slogan I'm so embarrassed for you," journalist Molly Knight tweeted. Morning Joe's Joe Scarborough joked on Tuesday that Trump might soon move from appropriating "stronger together" to copying "I'm with her."
RNC spokesperson Steve Guest told The Hill it's perfectly acceptable for the GOP to co-opt Clinton's mantra. "When you lose your campaign, you lose your monopoly on any slogans," he said Monday night. "As we saw at his packed rally, President Trump continues to unite the American people behind his pro-border security agenda."
Coming up with the slogan "stronger together" apparently wasn't easy for Clinton's campaign team. According to a 2016 leaked email from her campaign chairman, John Podesta, they bounced around 85 other ideas before finally settling on that one. CNN's Gregory Krieg called many of the dismissed possibilities "almost physically painful to lay eyes on," but not everyone felt that the final selection was much better. Republican strategist Fred Davis told NPR in August of 2016 that "stronger together" was a "boring" slogan. However, since being president is a "serious endeavor," he also suggested that it was "the right move."
Clinton's 2016 slogan apparently wasn't enough to win the election, but it did prove compelling enough for the GOP this week.