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Obama Needs Help with Slogan

By    |   Tuesday, 10 April 2012 10:59 AM EDT

In the presidential election of 2008 Barak Obama became an iconic brand under the trademarks of “Hope and Change,” “Change We Can Believe In,” and “Yes We Can!”

In 2008, after a brutal primary season, Obama beat Hillary Clinton for the nomination and became bigger than life — getting swept into office on lofty rhetoric, overstated promises, and slick slogans. He blamed much of America’s woes on his predecessor.

Then governing set in.

Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend (R) of  The Who, sum up President Obama's re-election chances in one of their classic songs.
(Getty Images)
With high unemployment, soaring gas prices, massive national debt, consumer uncertainty, millions of home foreclosures, businesses going bankrupt, a Middle East meltdown and a looming showdown with Iran, the state of the union does not lend itself to any of Obama’s old 2008 slogans.

The man who promised hope and change has a record to defend this time around.

A majority of Americans believe that they are not better off than they were before President Barack Obama took office and that the United States is overwhelmingly on the wrong track under his watch.

The slogans and lofty rhetoric of 2008 no longer fit the reality of 2012.

So, now the Obama administration has embarked on a series of speeches to test possible new slogans that define the president’s re-election bid.

Recently, the Obama team spent hundreds of thousands of dollars testing out new slogans and phrases.

None of them seem to be gaining traction with the American public. Tom Hanks and Hollywood producers even developed a 17-minute video titled, “The Road We’ve Traveled,” in an attempt to remind people that Obama is the same person in 2012 that he was in 2008 — his abysmal record notwithstanding.

Here are some of the Obama slogans they are testing: “An Economy Built to Last,” “A Fair Shot,” “Winning The Future, We Can’t Wait” and “An America Built To Last.”

Despite their best efforts, nothing seems to be catching on.

There is no doubt that Obama feels a need to reinvent himself, which shows a great weakness in his messaging and communications strategy.

If he had a record to herald as opposed to one he must defend, the president would have built off the great slogans of “Hope and Change” that helped get him elected in the first place.

His slogan could have been, “Promises Made — Promises Kept” or “Hope Is Alive.”

Every campaign seeks to define itself in just a few words. The catchier and more clever the better.

The Obama slogans of 2008 were brilliant. If you can get supporters and reporters to parrot back your slogans, it goes a long way to defining what the campaign and candidate stands for.

When a campaign is unable to come up with a slogan on its own, it runs the risk of others coming up with one for it.

I can think of several that may be apropos for Mr. Obama: “It Could Be Worse,” or “Hopeless,” or even, “No Hope — Now Change.”

The bottom line in politics is if you do not have a record to stand on — then no amount of pithy slogans can make up for it.

To borrow a line from The Who, “Won’t Get Fooled Again.”

Bradley A. Blakeman served as deputy assistant to President George W. Bush from 2001-04. He is currently a professor of Politics and Public Policy at Georgetown University and a frequent contributor to Fox News Opinion. Read more reports from Bradley Blakeman — Click Here Now.

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Tuesday, 10 April 2012 10:59 AM
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