The Common Good

Mitt Romney Uses KKK Catchphrase

The Washington Post reports:

Someone didn’t do his research.

On Tuesday, political commenters reported that GOP presidential contender Mitt Romney has been using a catchphrase in his stump speeches that the Ku Klux Klan favored in the 1920s.

When the white supremacist group used “Keep America American,” it was to rally people against blacks American, gay people, Catholics and Jews. When Romney’s used it, as he did in this Los Angeles Times piece, it was to promise that as president he would “keep America American with the principles that made us the greatest nation on Earth.”

Romney’s isn’t the first campaign mishap that came out of a borrowed slogan. While a candidate’s political slogan can be key to an effective campaign — as President Obama’s “Yes We Can” slogan was — many politicians have shown by example how precarious slogans can be if you don’t do your research.

In October, for example, campaigners for Sen. Scott Brown (R.-Mass.) were found to have stolen remarks made by former North Carolina senator Elizabeth Dole for Brown’s Web site.

When former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich announced his presidential run earlier this year, he launched his official campaign Web site using the slogan “Win the future.” It was a phrase used in some variation or another 11 times by Obama in his State of the Union speech this year.

When Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum began using the slogan “Fighting to make America America again” (which sounds somewhat like Romney’s), Think Progress pointed out it was very close to the title of a Langston Hughes poem “Let America be America again.” Hughes is widely believed to be gay. Santorum, who has compared homosexuality to incest, soon stopped using the slogan.

And Romney was in hot water for a slogan earlier in the campaign, when MSNBC host Rachel Maddow pointed out that his “Believe in America” slogan was the same one Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) used in his presidential campaign in 2004.

The America Blog, which first noticed the similarity in Romney’s newest, reports that Romney has also used it in a campaign ad:

Long before the KKK picked up the slogan, it was used in the 1850s by members of the “Know Nothing Party,”an anti-immigrant, anti-Catholic nativist party.

A spokeswoman for Mitt Romney has declined to comment on the matter.

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