By Bob Cusack - 06/15/06 12:00 AM EDT
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) raised eyebrows Tuesday when she used a campaign phrase suggested for the Democrats early this year by former Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.).
But it turns out that Pelosi is not alone.
Democratic candidates for Congress across the country have been employing the phrase “Had Enough?” in speeches and on their campaign websites.
After national Democrats unveiled their 2006 slogan, “Together We Can Do Better,” Gingrich in March said Democrats would be better off using “Had Enough?”
A month later, former Rep. Tim Roemer (D-Ind.) wrote an op-ed in The New York Times urging Democrats to embrace the phrase “Had Enough? Vote Democratic!”
In an interview yesterday, Roemer said the idea for the op-ed came to him after reading a story about Harry Truman that recounted that an advertising executive in 1946 suggested “Had Enough?” to the Republican Party, which adopted the slogan. Later that year, Republicans gained control of both chambers of Congress.
During her speech to the liberal group Campaign for America’s Future this week, Pelosi asked the crowd, “Have you had enough?”
“Yeah!” the crowd replied, as it did to each of her “had enough” questions:
“Have you had enough of a war that has failed to make America more secure? Have you had enough of paying higher prices for gasoline and prescription drugs in order to increase the profits of pharmaceutical and oil companies? Have you had enough of seeing America led in the wrong direction?”
She concluded, “I thought so.”
The campaign slogan of Ed Perlmutter, running in the Democratic primary in Colorado’s 7th District, is “Had Enough? Time for a change.” The incumbent in that district, Republican Bob Beauprez, is retiring.
Perlmutter told The Hill that he is not following Gingrich’s lead but added, “I haven’t liked a lot of things [Gingrich] has done. I’ll take that.”
If he wins the primary, Perlmutter would face Republican Rick O’Donnell — who used to work for Gingrich’s Progress and Freedom Foundation.
Other Democratic candidates who have used the “Had Enough?” phrase include Lois Murphy, who is looking to defeat Rep. Jim Gerlach (R-Pa.), and Dr. David Hunter, who is facing an uphill battle to replace retiring Rep. Ernest Istook (R-Okla.).
But it didn’t help certain Democrats in their quest for Congress. Ken Longmyer and Ron Shapiro, who favored the “Had Enough?” slogan, lost in their recent primaries in Virginia and Mississippi, respectively.
Spokespeople for these candidates disputed any connection to Gingrich, with some of them noting that the phrase is common in the English language.
Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), however, acknowledged Gingrich’s help — and praised it. During a speech in Ohio earlier this month, Obama said, “I never thought that I’d hear myself say this at a Democratic Party dinner, but Newt Gingrich made a great point the other day” on the “Had Enough?” slogan.
Obama then attracted several standing ovations by using the phrase on port security, healthcare and U.S. dependence on oil.
Democratic strategist James Carville can also claim credit for the phrase. He wrote a book published in 2003 titled Had Enough? A Handbook for Fighting Back.
Regardless, there are some Democrats who believe that “Had Enough?” is better than “Together We Can Do Better.”
Liberal commentator Arianna Huffington has called for Democrats to dump “Together We Can Do Better,” calling it the “lamest” message she could imagine, according to a report in The Washington Post.
Gingrich told The Hill this week that his advice to Democrats rankled some of his Republican colleagues but added that he is concerned that the GOP is not evolving. He said the reason why Democrats stayed in the majority for decades before 1994 was because they were constantly coming up with new ideas.
Alexander Bolton, Elana Schor and Natalie McGill contributed to this report.