LOS ANGELES Democratic presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich has accused rivals John Edwards and Howard Dean of appropriating the theme of his ad campaign, the Kucinich campaign said in a statement.
Kucinich's "Fear ends—hope begins" slogan, which was donated to the campaign by Paul MacFarlane of St. Louis agency The Experiment, has been used in George Lois' Kucinich ads since last December.
The Kucinich campaign alleges that Edwards recently began to use "The campaign of hope" as a theme, and that in New Hampshire Dean's camp produced posters, banners and T-shirts emblazoned with "Hope—not fear."
"Well, it's gratifying to know that at least two of my opponents are starting to get what I'm talking about," Kucinich said in a statement. "Maybe now they'll vote for me!"
Deborah Jackson, national advertising and marketing co-director for Kucinich, called the practice "ultimately flattering." "But it is amazing that a campaign as wealthy as Dean's can't come up with something unique," she said. "This example is one of the more obvious examples of different camps picking up on the messaging of Dennis' campaign. We come up with something, and it's as if our campaign is only a testing ground. Other camps look at a message we've crafted, think about it for a couple of weeks, then decide to use it in their campaign."
Jackson attributed the borrowing to having "an established adman like George Lois aboard."
Dean's press representatives did not return phone calls.
The Edwards organization said its candidate has always used a theme of hope. "We're all Democrats and there is going to be some convergence and commonality of themes," said Roger Salazar, national spokesman for Edwards. "But Senator Edwards' ideas for where he wants to take this country are his own. He's had the theme of hope, optimism and a positive vision of change since the beginning."
Lois seemed to take the matter in stride. "If you're going to steal, you might as well steal from the best," he said.
When asked why the campaigns are not following leading contender John Kerry's ad strategy, Jackson said, "Kucinich being lower in the polls may be giving the candidates a greater sense of entitlement to borrow [his] messaging, or believe that it won't be noticed as much."