Who's quoting whom on the campaign trail?by Nikki Tundel, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — As the saying goes, it's best to speak from your heart. But if you're running for president of the United States, you might want to rely on the words of someone other than yourself.
The 2008 presidential candidates love to throw out quotations. If you listen closely to the campaign coverage, you'll hear the remarks of Ronald Reagan, Ralph Waldo Emerson, John F. Kennedy, even Jesus Christ.
Republicans, Democrats and Independents have a habit of reciting scripture. Mike Huckabee, for example, always has a few Bible verses handy -- although that's probably not too surprising given he's an ordained Baptist minister. Huckabee is particularly fond of Philippians 4:13: "I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me."
The Republican once served up the words of Jesus at a Pizza Ranch in Iowa. When asked about his decision not to run ads attacking rival Mitt Romney, Huckabee summoned the Sermon on the Mount, saying, "If a man gains the whole world and loses his own soul, what does it profit him?"
After the Christian savior, the most quoted man on the campaign trail seems to be Martin Luther King Jr. Liberals and conservatives alike depend on the late reverend's remarks to woo would-be voters. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have actually zeroed in on the same phrase. Both like to say they are motivated by "the fierce urgency of now." That's a phrase the civil rights leader used in his "I Have a Dream" speech.
Some quotes are chosen for their patriotic, gung-ho spirit. Mitt Romney, for example, mimics founding father Sam Adams, reciting: "Together they prayed and together they fought, and together, by the grace of God, they founded this great nation."
Other quotes serve as hard-hitting, political statements. In December, Mike Huckabee released a television ad which, according to some, displayed the image of a Christian cross. When asked to respond to the commercial, presidential hopeful Ron Paul channeled the words of Sinclair Lewis, saying: "When fascism comes, it will be wrapped in a flag and carrying a cross."
Some candidates find comfort in quotes. After an uninspiring finish in the Iowa caucuses, Senator Joe Biden leaned on an old Mark Twain, saying: "The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated." When Hillary Clinton was asked to comment on rival Barack Obama's eloquent speaking style, she proclaimed, "You campaign in poetry. You govern in prose." That's a line from Mario Cuomo, the former governor of New York.
Then there's Fred Thompson. After being shown some lackluster poll numbers, the Republican consoled himself with the words of Edmund Burke. The 18th-century Irish statesman is known for defying the King of Great Britain and defending the American Revolution. Burke's quote: "Your representative owes you, not his industry only, but his judgment; and he betrays, instead of serving you, if he sacrifices it to your opinion." Which seems to indicate that Thompson thinks he's right even if he's not popular.
Clearly, you can't have a presidential race without someone reciting Lincoln or Jefferson. But, these days, candidates like to mix it up a bit.
Democrat Barack Obama, for instance, enjoys quoting his opponent's husband, Bill Clinton. When confronted with his lack of experience, Obama relies on a popular proclamation from the former president, saying: "The same old experience is irrelevant."
Republican Rudy Giuliani, on the other hand, borrows from French leader Nicolas Sarkozy.
Congressman Dennis Kucinich's favorite quotes come from poet Walt Whitman, physicist Albert Einstein and musician / activist Charles Mingus.
Then, once again, there's Mike Huckabee. The former Arkansas governor seems to be a sucker for sayings. In addition to quoting Jesus Christ, he showcases the words of George Constanza, the neurotic character from the sitcom Seinfeld. On his Web site, Huckabee compares fellow Republican Mitt Romney to Jerry Seinfeld's truth-bending companion. Then he showcases the Constanza quote: "Just remember, it's not a lie if you believe it."